Senate passes Farm Bill; hemp closer to becoming a legal commodity

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The procedural vote cleared the way for the House to approve the final farm bill later in the day.

Trump has 10 days to sign or veto the $867 billion bill; his signature is considered nearly certain as Congress scrambles to finish its work before this session ends December 21.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly pushed for the bill during its lifecycle, because it included a provision that would remove hemp from the federal list of controlled substances.

Now, with hemp set to be treated as an agricultural product, the U.S. FDA or state departments of agriculture will provide oversight of the plant's cultivation.

Estimates show the federal legalization could triple the overall hemp market to $2.5 billion by 2022, with $1.3 billion of those sales from CBD products. With one of the largest existing greenhouse footprints in the US and a 30-year proven track record as a large-scale, low-priced grower of high-value crops, Village Farms has a formidable platform to capitalize on the hemp and CBD opportunity.

Thursday, Eyewitness News spoke with farmers and rural Kansas families about what the passed Farm Bill actually means for them.

"Farm Bill will help producers make decisions about the future, while also investing in important agricultural research and supporting trade programs to bolster exports", he said.

"Hemp was grown, or was grown in the past in Kentucky as much as any other state, so it should grow well here", said Willian.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has said in the past that CBD products will be treated like any other products that make unproven claims to shrink cancer tumors or other statements. Canopy Growth Corp., which is backed by alcohol giant Constellation Brands Inc., has been experimenting with field-scale hemp-derived CBD production in Saskatchewan. Industrial Hemp Association, an industry group.

"We've waited for a long time for industrial hemp to be legal", he said in an interview.

"Making it official with my hemp pen", he tweeted out Monday in advance of Senate approval of the bill.

"What Kansans tell me over and over is the importance of crop insurance and we've seen farm bills that have been pretty damaging to crop insurance", Kansas Senator Jerry Moran says.

Pulak Sharma, co-CEO of Kazmira, a company focused on the large-scale production of CBD oil and isolate, praised the historic move. Rodes says growing hemp isn't new to Virginia, but it's been illegal for quite a few years. "As a company, we're utilizing hemp as a source for CBD, but we look forward to the USA taking advantage of hemp's many other industrial uses, such as a source of building and construction materials, material for bio-composite purposes, clean biofuels, as well as a viable source of nutrition". They are relieved the final bill did not include a House measure that would have eliminated the Conservation Stewardship Program, which helps farmers expand their conservation practices.

An earlier House version of the bill had also allowed the government to skip some environmental reviews required by law to accelerate logging in certain areas. "We did it with broad, bipartisan support and by building on the strengths of both the Senate and House versions", Hoeven said in a statement.

She said she only uses a few drops as a pain treatment. "Getting the farm bill passed, and signed into law, is one less thing they need to worry about".

Vitality, based in Eureka, Montana, is a large US hemp producer and grew 20,000 acres this year.

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