2018 Farm Bill established many changes in regard to hemp farming. This bill changed, updated, or removed some of the laws, rules, and regulations of hemp farming. There are important aspects of this bill that will change the way people view hemp farming.
What changed? What do you need to know? The answers lie with the new bill. Many things have changed, but many have not. It’s important to know what’s true.
2014 Farm Bill
The 2014 farm bill allowed for higher education institutions and state agricultural departments (when the states permit) to grow hemp as long as the definition of industrial hemp was followed. This bill defined industrial hemp as being 0.3 percent (dry weight) of THC content.
Drug Enforcement Administration regulated many aspects of the hemp industry due to the classification of hemp as cannabis, including the production and importation seeds. These rules and regulations were in place to assist in keeping anyone from growing in their homes or on their farms without proper permission and licensing. However, the 2018 farm bill changed some of these rules.
2018 Farm Bill
In 2018, a new farm bill changed many of the rules and classifications from the 2014 bill. This new bill classifies hemp as an agricultural commodity and removes it from the controlled substances list. Another new feature finds hemp covered under crop insurance and brings a new development to the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation for a policy to cover hemp.
With the allowance of hemp growing comes rules for quality and cultivation; as well as punishments for breaking the rules and repeat offenders. One of these rules carries over from the 2014 farm bill; no THC content higher than 0.3 percent and no cultivation without a license. This bill also provides guidelines for state regulation and submitting required reports to the secretary of agriculture.
Changes to Production
Production rates have risen practically overnight due to the changes in the 2018 bill allowing for more ability to grow hemp. Estimates indicate a rise in hemp acreage from 9,800 in 2016 to 78,000 in 2018. This change comes shortly after the new 2018 farm bill took effect and the numbers continue to grow steadily. Many farmers have begun gearing up to grow hemp on their own acreage to reap the profits.
Changes to Imports
Hemp imports began to reach their peak of nearly $80 million in 2015, but have slowly declined over the years. Based on 2017 numbers, hemp imports have decreased to just under $70 million. Hemp seeds were the main point of imports and the majority of the supplies have come from Canada. Much if U.S. trade has come from Canada and hemp is no different, sitting at approximately 90 percent of the imports.
Hemp Production Program
The new Hemp Production Program, brought on by the USDA, is setting out to create regulations based on the 2018 bill. This program is seeking to update the rules and regulations from Section 7606 of the 2014 bill. The USDA expects all farmers and growers to continue following these rules and regulations until the new ones become effective. The expectation is for this to happen by the end of 2019. Likewise, the USDA expects citizens to delay implementation of the 2018 bill until the rules and regulations go into effect.
Challenges of The Farm Bill
Regulation changes are still in the works for the 2018 bill. This delay has caused many farmers to place cultivation on hold as their state does not legally allow for growing hemp under the 2014 bill. The FDA and USDA are currently working to produce rules and regulations to accommodate the 2018 bill and allow for planting under the new rules by the 2020 growing season.
Another challenge at this time is crop insurance. Crop insurance rules will need to adapt to hemp growing and provide regulations under the 2018 bill. The crop is not insurable in 2019 due to a statement released in 2018 about the progress toward insurance covering hemp as a commodity they cover. Farmers are still eligible to cover their other crops and receive insurance for those. However, hemp is currently not part of this. This means the farmer has no coverage for the investment in the hemp crop under his or her insurance if the crop should fail.
Having so many new rules and regulations can cause an array of problems for farmers and hemp growers. The need to have insurance and rules for growing and protecting your hemp crop are important, but the lack of finalized rules and regulations are causing issues in the 2019 growing season. While the legality of growing hemp rests on these unset rules and regulations, it’s important to remember there are still rules and regulations to follow.
You may not have insurance coverage for you hemp crop and your farm may not operate under the full legality of the 2018 farm bill, but you can still grow hemp. As long as you’re following the 2014 rules and regulations, growing hemp is not an illegal act. Simply follow the rules and regulations set forth in the 2014 bill and await the changes for the 2020 growing season.
It’s important to follow every rule for growing hemp because you could create a lot of trouble for yourself and your farm if you don’t. You have the potential to lose everything if you refuse to follow the rules and regulations set forth in the 2014 bill while you await the 2018 changes. Yes, some of the changes are already in effect, allowing farmers to cultivate hemp. However, it’s also going to take time for the new rules to come into play and allow for others to grow as well. Be patient, follow the rules, and you too can have the privilege and reap the rewards of growing hemp for your own profits.