As negotiations commence in the new year, 33 non-profit organizations representing the hemp industry have identified objectives for the next U.S. Farm Bill.

The effort was initiated and led by the Hemp Industries Association, the National Industrial Hemp Council and the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, resulting in a slate of policy priorities announced in April 2023. Following ongoing negotiations and feedback from stakeholders, these priorities were refined and improved into seven objectives.

Specifically, the hemp industry members urge Congress to: 

  • Regulate CBD and other ingredients derived from hemp under the existing frameworks for dietary supplement and food additives as outlined in HR 1629 and S 2451.
  • Address the shortage of testing laboratories and protect consumers by allowing USDA and ISO 17025 accredited laboratories to test hemp products.
  • Reduce regulatory requirements for hemp grain and fiber farmers via HR 3755 or S 980, and/or through a fit-for-purpose approach as outlined here.
  • Permit hemp grain for animal feed.
  • Maintain the current definition of “hemp” while balancing appropriate consumer protections with continued market access to popular hemp products.
  • Promote justice, equity and the planet by repealing the felon ban in HR 1428, supporting hemp research at minority serving institutions, and enhancing climate opportunities through carbon credit programs.
  • Mandate that hemp crops should be deemed compliant unless they exceed 1% total THC, as defined by USDA.

Farm Bills have historically played a role in shaping hemp policy. Just as the 2014 Farm Bill established hemp pilot programs, and the 2018 Farm Bill permanently legalized hemp, the forthcoming version could prove important for farmers and businesses.

In November, President Joe Biden signed a stopgap funding bill that extended the 2018 Farm Bill through September 2024.

“With the Farm Bill delayed, possibly beyond the upcoming presidential election, we have an extended window to build upon the substantial strides made this year,” said U.S. Hemp Roundtable General Counsel Jonathan Miller. “The remarkable unity within our industry sends a powerful message to Congress. We will seize this window of opportunity to ensure that the final package reflects and prioritizes the key objectives crucial to the growth and sustainability of the hemp industry.”

“We heard Members of Congress and their staff asking for unity in the hemp industry, and we took action,” added Patrick Atagi, president and CEO of the National Industrial Hemp Council. “The industry is now speaking with a unified voice. We know hemp creates jobs, provides direct and indirect income, supports towns, cities and municipalities through taxes, and benefits society through sustainable agriculture. Congress and the Federal government can grow the industry exponentially by adopting the seven legislative proposals before them.” 

“We are thankful industry leaders continue to work together on the next Farm Bill to deliver clear priorities to Congress such as protecting the current broad definition of hemp while increasing quality control standards for consumable products on the marketplace today,” said Justin Swanson, president of the Hemp Industries Association.