Earlier this month, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill with strong support from both Democrats and Republicans in an effort to give American farmers some reprieve from the ongoing trade war with China.
The $867 billion farm bill includes new subsidies for farmers and legalizes hemp production, something that could have a huge impact on agriculture across the United States.
Industrial hemp is widely used in thousands of products. You can find hemp in everything from cosmetics and beauty products, to food and beverages, to fabrics and textiles, to automotive parts.
According to Forbes, industrial hemp is widely used in over 25,000 products.
However, production of hemp in the US has been tightly restricted in the past because it was listed as a controlled substance, along with all varieties of cannabis, in the Controlled Substances Act for 50 years.
Now farmers can freely grow and transport hemp across state lines as per the rules defined into the new bill, and this opens up a wealth of new opportunities for the agricultural industry.
As climate change-induced drought and extreme weather events continue to strain water resources and limit crop yields, hardy, frost resistant crops like hemp will soon become a staple as more and farmers look for sustainable crop options to meet demand.
The 2014 Farm Bill allowed some hemp pilot programs, and in 2018, over 3,500 participants in that program had planted more than 77,000 acres of hemp across the US, according to Vote Hemp, a hemp advocacy group.
Vote Hemp says that the tight regulations of the pilot program were “burdensome” and the new bill lifts those previous restrictions.
With the new bill, more farmers can invest in hemp crops that have high levels of CBD or cannabidiol, which research has shown has many positive health impacts.
That’s not to mention the economic benefits of CBD collected from hemp, the sales of which could increase to 5.7 billion, according to the cannabis and CBD research group Brightfield.
“The hemp CBD industry is growing exponentially and presents a real opportunity for rural economic development, with tremendous enthusiasm from consumers,” William Hilliard, CEO of the Hemp growers group Atalo, told Forbes. “Our intention is to attract the best and brightest, innovative farmers and offer them a long-term relationship rather than a spot-market.”
Hemp farmers can also soon enjoy other benefits like crop insurance and acquiring loans through banking services.