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Hemp group releases list of priorities for new farm bill

A coalition of hemp industry groups has agreed on seven main priorities for things they want to see included in the federal farm bill reauthorization, which is scheduled to take place in 2024.

Hank Schultz

January 4, 2024

3 Min Read

At a Glance

  • More than 30 hemp groups came together to set priorities for federal Farm Bill reauthorization.
  • 2018 version of bill took industrial hemp off controlled substances list, but left many other issues undecided.
  • Priorities include getting hemp ingredients regulated as supplements, making testing easier, and more.

The U.S. Hemp Roundtable has released a list of priorities it says needs to be addressed in the upcoming Farm Bill.  The issues include the use of hemp in supplements, foods and feeds, testing issues, and more. 

In a press release, the group said the priorities list was taken from initiatives across the industry. It includes some priorities that have already found their way into pending legislation. 

The goal is to unite the industry behind a wish list of sorts that could be included in the reauthorization of the federal Farm Bill, the deadline for which was extended by Congress to Sept. 30, 2024. 

Among the priorities are: 

  • New regulations for CBD and other hemp derivatives as dietary supplement and food ingredients. 

  • Making testing easier by lifting the Drug Enforcement Administration licensing bottleneck. 

  • Easing some regulatory burdens for farmers, including raising the limit of THC content to 1% by dry weight to avoid the issue of crops exceeding the limit due to natural botanical variability. 

Cutting list down to size 

The list (which includes seven specific priorities in all) was winnowed down from a much longer one, said Jonathan Miller, general counsel for the group. 

“We had about 15 issues that we originally advocated for. We realized that we needed to pare that down,” he told Natural Products Insider in a telephone interview. 

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The negotiations on what to focus on were carried out with the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and the National Industrial Hemp Council (NIHC), Miller said. 

While the groups’ agenda is ambitious, Miller said there is reason to believe that some of the initiatives, or all of them, can make their way into a final Farm Bill. 

As for timing, Miller said it’s most likely the bill will be reauthorized during the lame duck session that will follow the presidential election in November. Miller pointed to the support the industry has received from Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Shumer (D-NY) and Rep. James Comer (R-KY). 

 

Specifically, the industry urges Congress to:  

  • Regulate CBD and other ingredients derived from hemp under the existing frameworks for dietary supplements 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. See proposal here.  

  • 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. See proposal here.  

  • 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 are deemed compliant unless they exceed 1% total THC, as defined by USDA. See proposal here.  

Related:Cannabis Civil War heats up as courts make important rulings about hemp

Even though some of the bills listed above are already on the table, Miller said the clearest path for getting those ideas written into federal law is to include them in omnibus legislation. 

“It’s much more likely these days to get those bills within a farm bill rather than getting them passed individually. We know they are going to have to pass the Farm Bill,” Miller said. 

Wide support 

The priorities list garnered the support of 33 separate entities. As well as the groups mentioned above, support came from the American Herbal Products Association, the Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association and a host of state hemp groups. 

 

 

 

About the Author(s)

Hank Schultz

Senior Editor, Informa

Hank Schultz has been the senior editor of Natural Products Insider since early 2023. He can be reached at [email protected]

Prior to joining the Informa team, he was an editor at NutraIngredients-USA, a William Reed Business Media publication.

His approach to industry journalism was formed via a long career in the daily newspaper field. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in journalism and German, Hank was an editor at the Tempe Daily News in Arizona. He followed that with a long stint working at the Rocky Mountain News, a now defunct daily newspaper in Denver, where he rose to be one of the city editors. The newspaper won two Pulitzer Prizes during his time there.

The changing landscape of the newspaper industry led him to explore other career paths. He began his career in the natural products industry more than a decade ago at New Hope Natural Media, which was then part of Penton and now is an Informa brand. Hank formed friendships and partnerships within the industry that still inform his work to this day, which helps him to bring an insider’s perspective, tempered with an objective journalist’s sensibility, to his in-depth reporting.

Harkening back to his newspaper days, Hank considers the readers to be the primary stakeholders whose needs must be met. Report the news quickly, comprehensively and above all, fairly, and readership and sponsorships will follow.

In 2015, Hank was recognized by the American Herbal Products Association with a Special Award for Journalistic Excellence.

When he’s not reporting on the supplement industry, Hank enjoys many outside pursuits. Those include long distance bicycle touring, mountain climbing, sailing, kayaking and fishing. Less strenuous pastimes include travel, reading (novels and nonfiction), studying German, noodling on a harmonica, sketching and a daily dose of word puzzles in The New York Times.

Last but far from least, Hank is a lifelong fan and part owner of the Green Bay Packers.

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