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  • Nicolle Callier

What is the Farm Bill?

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The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, commonly known as the 2018 Farm Bill, was a comprehensive piece of legislation that had far-reaching impacts on agriculture, food, and nutrition policy in the United States. The bill was signed into law by President Donald Trump on December 20, 2018, and included a range of provisions related to farming, conservation, rural development, and nutrition assistance programs.

The primary purpose of the 2018 Farm Bill was to reauthorize and update many of the programs and policies that were established in the previous Farm Bill, which was passed in 2014. The 2018 bill continued many of the same programs, including crop insurance, conservation programs, and research funding, while also making significant changes to other areas of agricultural policy.

One of the most notable changes included in the 2018 Farm Bill was the legalization of hemp. The bill defined hemp as any cannabis plant with a THC concentration of 0.3% or less by dry weight, and removed it from the list of federally controlled substances. This change opened up new opportunities for farmers to grow hemp for use in a range of products, including textiles, paper, and dietary supplements.

The legalization of hemp also had significant implications for the emerging market for CBD. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD derived from hemp is no longer classified as a controlled substance, making it legal to produce, sell, and transport across state lines. This has led to a proliferation of CBD products on the market, including oils, creams, and edibles, as well as a growing body of scientific research on the potential uses of CBD for a variety of medical conditions.

However, the legality of other cannabis-derived products remains a matter of debate, particularly as new products such as delta-8 THC have emerged. Delta-8 THC is a psychoactive compound that is similar to delta-9 THC (the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana), but is derived from hemp and is not specifically prohibited under the 2018 Farm Bill. 

Looking ahead, there is already significant discussion about the 2023 Farm Bill and what it may include. Some key issues that are likely to be addressed in the next bill include continued funding for conservation programs, research on climate change and agriculture, and changes to the nutrition assistance programs that are aimed at reducing food insecurity and promoting healthier diets. There is also likely to be ongoing debate about the regulation of hemp and other cannabis-derived products, as well as efforts to support small-scale farmers and promote rural development.


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