Farm Bill Signed, Hemp Legalized and a Shutdown Ahead?

Dec 21, 2018  | 4 min  | Ep4418

(This story was updated to reflect that USDA officials will be processing Market Facilitation Payments for the first week of the shutdown.) One link in the chain of support for farmers and ranchers is the Farm Bill. The President signed the 2018 version but implementation is on hold.

Key to funding the nearly $1 trillion measure is a continuing resolution for the federal budget. A shutdown seemed inevitable when this program was recorded Friday.

Peter Tubbs and John Torpy have more in this week’s policy roundup. Producer contacts: peter.tubbs@iptv.org, torpy@iptv.org

One provision of the 2018 Farm Bill gave a boost to growers of a commodity with a rich history. Industrial hemp received legalization in the 2018 Farm Bill. 
Producers will be able to budget production of this crop like any other on the farm as well as be eligible for crop insurance.
Industrial hemp can be manufactured into hundreds of products ranging from clothing to biofuels. However, the cousin to cannabis is more popular for its medicinal properties through the production of cannabidiol (can-uh-bid-i-all) or CBD oils. CBD is valued among the medical community for its numerous health benefits including the treatment of anxiety, arthritis, and chronic seizures.
The FDA will continue overseeing the growing business of CBD oil production which is predicted to earn over $1 billion annually for the hemp industry.
  
The 18-month journey of the 2018 Farm Bill concluded this week with President Trump’s signature on Thursday. But a change in USDA policy sparked controversy even before the signing.
The USDA has proposed eliminating waivers that individual states use to ignore work requirements for specific SNAP recipients. The rules come into play when the supply of jobs in a community falls below a certain level.
Under current law, able bodied adults without dependents cannot receive SNAP benefits for more than three months out of any three-year period without meeting certain work or job-training thresholds. This group represents less than 10 percent of the 40 million Americans who receive SNAP benefits. 
Increasing work requirements was a goal of Republican lawmakers in the House during negotiations on the Farm Bill, and was dropped in the final days of talks in order to reach agreement on the package. 
The new proposal is being interpreted by some as an end run around Congress.

All of this news was overshadowed by a White House threat to close a large swath of the Federal government over a failure by Congress to allocate $5 billion for the construction of a wall along the southern border with Mexico.
President Donald Trump: “I’ve made my position very clear. Any measure that funds the government must include border security. Has to. Not for political purposes but for our country, for the safety of our community.”   
A continuing resolution to keep the government open passed both houses of Congress this week, but President Trump announced Thursday morning that he would close the government until funding for the wall was allocated. 
Over 800,000 employees deemed “non-essential” will be furloughed, and more than 420,000 will work without pay, including Customs and Border Enforcement and meat inspectors. According to USDA officials, Market Facilitation Payments will be processed during the first week of the shutdown.

The shutdown takes effect at midnight, Friday December 21st.

For Market to Market, I’m Peter Tubbs.

comments: markettomarket@iptv.org

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