The 2018 Farm Bill paved the way for the CBD products you know and love today. Four years ago, this bill federally legalized the cultivation and sale of hemp containing less than 0.3 percent THC.
However, the time has come for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to renew the 2018 Farm Bill, as it’s set to expire in 2023.
The USDA has yet to release an official draft of the 2023 Farm Bill. But experts and congresspersons alike have come forth to share key points on the new legislation over the last few weeks.
What is the Farm Bill?
The Farm Bill is an “omnibus bill” that mandates agricultural policies. Specifically, the Farm Bill regulates farm income support, food assistance programs, agricultural trade, and more. The first farm bill was passed in 1933 and has been renewed every five years since its initial passage.
The USDA is the federal agency that oversees the drafting and implementation of these bills.
How Does the Farm Bill Affect Hemp?
As an agricultural product, hemp regulation falls within the scope of Farm Bill policies. Although the 2018 Farm Bill was the first to federally legalize hemp production, the 2014 Farm Bill allowed states to establish their own pilot programs for growing hemp.
Much like these last two pieces of legislation, the 2023 Farm Bill will inevitably affect federal hemp regulations. After all, the USDA regulates U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program.
What We Know About the 2023 Farm Bill So Far
While hemp is a major component of the 2023 Farm Bill, it isn’t the only area the USDA will address with this upcoming legislation.
According to an article by AgriPulse, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture released a statement on the top 10 issues they’re advocating for in the 2023 Farm Bill. These 10 priorities include:
- Agricultural research: NASDA recommends directing more funding toward research on the safety and security of the food system. The organization also recommends more funding for research on the conservation of natural resources.
- Animal diseases: The organization supports programs for surveillance, detection, prevention, and rapid response to animal disease outbreaks.
- Conservation and climate resilience: NASDA supports increasing funding for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and Environmental Quality Incentive Program.
- Cyber security: NASDA supports maintenance of the cyber security consortium.
- Food Security: NASDA says the Farm Bill should provide resources to help producers comply with the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA).
- Hemp: NASDA recommends amending the federal definition of hemp to “increase the total THC concentration to one percent or less.”
- Invasive species: The organization supports increasing funding for the Plant Pest and Disease Management & Disaster Prevention and the National Clean Plant Network programs.
- Local Food Systems: NASDA says the 2023 Farm Bill must address supply chain solutions, support the Farm to School Program, and increase the number of retailers who accept SNAP benefits.
- Specialty Crop Block Grant: NASDA recommends increasing the Specialty Crop Block Grant funding.
- Trade Promotion: The organization supports increasing the Market Access Program.
For context, NASDA is a non-profit association that “represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories.”
Of these top 10 priorities, the biggest takeaway for the cannabis industry is number six. If the Farm Bill redefines hemp as a cannabis crop with one percent of total THC or less, it would significantly expand the diversity of hemp strains farmers could grow.
Increasing the federal THC limit on hemp crops would also increase the diversity of hemp cultivars researchers could study in their laboratories.
Social equity issues in the hemp industry are another topic legislators hope to address in the 2023 Farm Bill. In February, House Agriculture Chairman David Scott said the upcoming bill should address the barriers small businesses and minority farmers face while entering the cannabis industry.
While there’s a lot the 2023 Farm Bill will need to address, we will specifically focus on any updates pertaining to the cannabis and hemp industry in the months to come.
Key Takeaways: The 2023 Farm Bill May Increase THC Limits on Hemp
The 2018 Farm Bill federally legalized the cultivation and sale of hemp. With its expiration date just around the corner, legislators are now drafting the 2023 Farm Bill that will remain in effect until 2028.
The USDA has not released an official draft of the 2023 Farm Bill yet. However, NASDA — a significant non-profit association that represents directors of each state’s agricultural departments — has announced that it’s in support of amending the federal definition of hemp.
This amendment would increase the THC limit on hemp from 0.3 percent to 1 percent. If passed, this would have major implications for hemp producers and researchers alike.
Lastly, House Agriculture Chairman David Scott said this bill needs to address social equity issues in the cannabis and hemp industries.
We will continue to update this page as more news comes forward about the 2023 Hemp Farm Bill.
- USDA. (n.d.). Farm Bill. https://www.usda.gov/farmbill
- Library of Congress. (n.d.). History of the United States Farm Bill. https://www.loc.gov/ghe/cascade/index.html?appid=1821e70c01de48ae899a7ff708d6ad8b
- Bodihan, M., & Wightman, C. (2021, December 17). 2014 Farm Bill Expiration: What Does it Mean for State Hemp Programs? JD Supra. https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/2014-farm-bill-expiration-what-does-it-7617979/
- USDA. (n.d.). Hemp Production | Agricultural Marketing Service. https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/hemp
- AgriPulse. (2022, February 16). NASDA reveals priorities for next farm bill. https://www.agri-pulse.com/articles/17216-nasda-reveals-farm-bill-priorities-for-2023
- NASDA. (n.d.). About. https://www.nasda.org/about
- Walerius, R. (2022, February 18). House Agriculture’s Scott says farm bill should address cannabis. Roll Call. https://rollcall.com/2022/02/17/house-agricultures-scott-says-farm-bill-should-address-cannabis/