Among its many provisions, the 2018 Farm Bill just approved by Congress legalizes the growing of industrial hemp. When Bob Clayton built this home in 2015 in Tarpon Springs using industrial hemp, he had to import the product from England. That cost him $65,000. / J.D. Vivian

The U.S. Congress has approved — with an 87-13 Senate vote and a 386-47 House vote — the $867 billion 2018 Farm Bill.

Though President Donald Trump disagrees with at least one provision of the Farm Bill, he is expected to sign the version that Congress approved. The bill that passed does not include work requirements for recipients of SNAP, the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

In September, Trump said, “I strongly support common-sense work requirements in the food stamps in the farm bill. We’ll see if we can get that.” He didn’t.


Among other things, the 10-year Farm Bill expands the number of people eligible for farm subsidies, legalizes the growing of industrial hemp, and will not increase the federal deficit. It also provides permanent promotional funding for local farmers markets, as well as funding for groups that train future farmers.

Dissent

Not everyone is happy with the new bill. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a conservative Republican and himself a farmer, said on his Senate website, “To say I’m disappointed (that) the bill makes more subsidies available to the wealthiest farmers and many non-farmers is a severe understatement. Especially when the impact of large farmers being allowed to manipulate the system is that young and beginning farmers face even larger hurdles.”

Grassley had sponsored what he called a “payment limitations amendment” to the bill that “would have limited the abuses related to” such subsidies. 

To read the senator’s entire website post, visit www.grassley.senate.gov/news/news-releases/grassley-remarks-passage-2018-farm-bill.

EWG is happy with bill

Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, wrote a positive editorial about the 2018 Farm Bill’s passage:

“The farm bill approved by the House and Senate will reform three programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP; the Conservation Stewardship Program, or CSP; and the Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP – to encourage farmers to adopt practices that protect drinking water supplies. The bill also expands a program designed to bring groups of farmers together to tackle drinking water pollution,” he wrote on the on the EWG’s website.

To read Faber’s entire commentary, visit www.ewg.org/agmag/2018/12/let-s-drink-farm-bill.