Tag Archives: 2018 Farm Bill

Coming off one of the worst years that we’ve ever had, knowing that the farm bill had been passed by the end of December was a relief that we weren’t expecting. Just before Christmas, we were still in the process of harvest, for a crop that we weren’t sure was worth the trip up and down the field. Dealing with natural disasters interfering with our progress is one thing – it’s another when it’s man-made interruptions that also impact our family farms.

What do I see as promising in the new farm bill? The opportunities for growth, trade and individualization within our farming businesses. I have four boys who are growing up before my eyes. They each have their own personalities, hopes, dreams and ideas about what their future may look like and now I can actually see some of that taking shape. I see potential and opportunity. Hemp? Hops? Barley? Vegetables? Some of the ideas that they have now look like they could become realities – with the ability to insure some of those crops that weren’t insurable before.

My community is excited for the potential of being able to amp up some of our local markets. We have a neighbor who raises hydroponic lettuce. For rural North Dakota, that’s huge. We can have local lettuce year-round. It’s an opportunity that, if replicated, can open many doors. But that can’t be done without support.

After the year we had in 2018, it’s difficult to want to encourage my children to continue the farming legacy we have worked generations to build. The hard work and long hours are difficult to justify when you miss out on big moments and have to defend your way of life to those who barely appreciate what you do, let alone understand it. And yet, the passing of this farm bill – following a year of perfect storms, during which our farms were hit from all sides by bad weather, tariffs, trade uncertainty, regulations, volatile markets and declining prices – gave me a glimmer of hope. Two sides of a very different coin were able to come together and agree that agriculture – and food – was important enough to not play games any longer. Perhaps that’s the lesson for all of us. Our crops will be eligible for insurance. In fact, more crops than ever before will be eligible for insurance. If we have another year like 2018, it will be a major determining factor in whether or not our family is able to continue farming for another year.

In a perfect world, my farm would not need a farm bill. In a perfect world, the markets would be open, prices would be fair and responsive to conditions and my day-to-day activities would consist of focusing on the crops that we love to raise. But if there is one thing that farming and ranching has taught me – it’s that a perfect world doesn’t exist. We have to play the hand we’re dealt and make the best of what we have. We also plan for a better tomorrow and do whatever we can to make sure that the next generation understands the importance of the lessons we have learned and that science and nature can work in harmony.

We do not look to the farm bill as an answer to the problems facing agriculture. Yet, with so many outside interferences that interrupt our day-to-day activities, there needs to be something in place that allows us a chance to be successful when we are good stewards of the land…and allows us to fail when we are not. I hope to one day look back on our farm and be able to see the future we have built taking shape. And for the first time in a long time, I can actually see that future. For that, I am thankful.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) issued the following remarks:

“With President Trump signing the farm bill today, America keeps faith with those hard-working farm and ranch families who put food on our tables and clothes on our backs. Because of the support of the president, Sec. Perdue and a Republican Congress, we were able to deliver a new farm bill in the same year that the legislation was first introduced, which marks a first in nearly 30 years. I’m proud of this bill and I’m honored to have served as chairman throughout this process. I’m thankful to all those who worked to help make today’s enactment of the farm bill possible.”

 

++++++++++++

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today celebrated President Trump’s signing of the 2018 Farm Bill and issued the following statement:

“This is a great day for our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers, as President Trump’s signature on this bill is a Christmas present to American agriculture.  Farmers take financial risks every year as a matter of doing business, so having a Farm Bill in place gives them peace of mind to make their decisions for the future.  Since early talks on this Farm Bill began back in 2017, I’ve always believed it would be more evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, and that has borne out to be true.

“The bill bolsters farm safety net programs, protects federal crop insurance, and maintains strong rural development and research initiatives. The legislation reinvents the Margin Protection Program for dairy producers, providing a boost to coverage levels and a reduction in premiums after the program fell short in the 2014 Farm Bill.  The bill also includes a new Animal Disease Prevention and Management program, providing annual funding for three animal health programs.  This includes a new vaccine bank focused on foot-and-mouth disease and extended funding of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network to protect our borders and improve food safety.

“While we would have liked more progress on forest management reforms and work requirements for certain Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients, we look forward to using our authorities to make improvements in those areas.  All told, this is a Farm Bill that should be welcomed by producers, and at USDA we will eagerly implement its provisions.  At USDA, we were pleased to provide a tremendous amount of technical assistance to Congress as legislators wrote the bill.  I thank the President for his leadership on this legislation, and commend the Senate and House Agriculture Committees for their many months of hard work.”

+++++++++++++++

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement today after President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law:

“Today is a great day for Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. This bipartisan bill gives our producers a critical safety net, enhances our nation’s trade promotion programs, and helps deliver broadband to farm country. I thank President Trump for his support of our producers who feed the world.”

++++++++++++++++++

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) made the following statement after joining President Donald Trump at the White House for the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill.

“I’m proud to support this Farm Bill to give certainty to our farmers and ranchers as the upcoming planting season quickly approaches. Over the past weeks and months, ag producers throughout Nebraska’s Third District have expressed to me, first-hand, the importance of a long-term Farm Bill and robust crop insurance. I thank President Trump for understanding the needs of our farmers and ranchers and appreciate his swift action to sign this bill into law.”

++++++++++++++++++++

Congressman Marshall was invited to the White House to join President Trump as he signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law.

“It was truly incredible to see this process from start to finish,” Rep. Marshall said. “I am so proud of this Farm Bill and happy to report that we have delivered on our promise to provide farmers with 5 years of certainty. This Farm Bill will be a great Christmas present to our producers across Kansas who will see many wins in this bill.”

Coupled with today’s signing, the Department of Agriculture announced that it would move a key focus of the House’s Farm Bill that was lost in the final negotiations forward, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) reform. Secretary Sonny Perdue proposed a rule to restore SNAP’s integrity.

“I am happy to see the White House take the groundwork that the House Agriculture Committee laid and expand upon it to make meaningful reforms to this welfare program,” Rep. Marshall said. This rule helps able-bodied Americans move off welfare and into work, and cracks down on states that are waiving the 20-hour per week work requirements. We want to help people by assisting them in finding work, and preparing them with the skills and training they need so that they can prosper. I am thrilled that the Trump administration is tackling this issue.”

+++++++++++++

U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Dan Halstrom issued the following statement:

USMEF thanks President Trump for approving the new Farm Bill and the senators and representatives who supported this legislation.

The Farm Bill contains many provisions that are critical to the success and competitiveness of American agriculture. One important aspect of the bill is its continued support for international promotion of U.S. agricultural products, as the bill maintains funding for the USDA Market Access Program and the USDA Foreign Market Development Program. Support from these programs is an important tool for expanding global demand for U.S. pork, beef and lamb, as well as many other U.S. products.

++++++++++++

John Piotti, president and CEO, American Farmland Trust :

“Today we celebrate for farmland. With the 2018 Farm Bill signed into law, we secure another $2 billion for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, which compensates landowners for committing to keep their land in agriculture. Those funds will help save some of the most important land in this nation, essential to both the food supply and environmental health.

American Farmland Trust, the recognized national leader in farmland protection, has fought hard to secure federal funding to protect our nation’s farmland and ranchland since our founding in 1980. During this Farm Bill process, AFT targeted increased funding for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, making it our number one priority. AFT sincerely thanks the leadership of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees for addressing our priority and recognizing the importance of farmland and ranchland protection in passing the 2018 Farm Bill and the President for quickly making it law.

Though this Farm Bill is ‘evolutionary’ rather than ‘revolutionary,’ it nonetheless provides a much-needed degree of support and stability to a struggling farm community. Beyond this, the new money for farmland protection is a major victory for both farmers and the environment.  AFT looks forward to working with the administration on its implementation.”

++++++++++++++

 NCGA President Lynn Chrisp and Chairman Kevin Skunes in attendance. Today’s action follows last week’s overwhelming bipartisan support for the bill in both the House and Senate.
“NCGA is very pleased that our farmers will be able to look forward to a new year with the certainty of a new farm bill. Between depressed commodity prices, record low farm incomes and tariffs and trade uncertainty, today’s signing is very welcome news.”
NCGA’s members took an active role in the 2018 Farm Bill’s development, ensuring organization priorities like continued support for crop insurance and improvements to the ARC-CO program, were included in the final legislation. Members visited with their representatives and sent emails and made phone calls to Capitol Hill offices stressing the importance of getting a new farm bill signed into law this year.
Chrisp thanked NCGA members for their efforts, especially during busy planting and harvest seasons, to get the bill across the finish line. He also thanked Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway and Ranking Member Collin Peterson, as well as President Trump and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue for their support for American agriculture.
+++++++++++++++++++

National Sorghum Producers Chairman Dan Atkisson, a sorghum farmer from Stockton, Kansas, attended the event and released the following statement:

“Today’s signing is a culmination of hard work, commitment and intelligent planning by Congress to get the bill across the finish line before the end of the year. We know this bill invests in the future of agriculture and NSP would like to thank the Administration as well as the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and their staffs for their leadership.

“NSP has been engaged in the farm bill process since hearings began in 2017. We have witnessed both chambers make focused efforts to meet the needs of rural America and applaud the resulting legislation. The 2018 Farm Bill contains policy that will maintain and enhance opportunities for sorghum producers and all of U.S. agriculture and we look forward to working with the Administration through its implementation.”

+++++++++++++++++

Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson:

 “Today is a good day for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers, for agriculture, and for all Americans. A country that can feed itself, is a country that is free. Since 1933, America has been passing farm bills knowing that food security is national security. The 2018 Farm Bill is no exception. This bill will help provide certainty to farmers and ranchers in navigating the challenges of today’s agriculture as they work to produce food for our country and the world.”

“This farm bill protects crop insurance programs and makes needed adjustments to commodity programs critical to managing risk associated with uncertainties of weather and markets. It improves federal conservation programs that aid farmers and ranchers in managing land and water resources. It delivers funding for trade promotion programs critical to improving access to markets outside the U.S. It also secures resources to expand broadband access in rural America allowing for the utilization of new technologies important to food production and environmental protection. Finally, it grants permanent funding for an expanded livestock vaccine bank to ensure America is prepared for the worst in the event of a catastrophic livestock disease occurrence. These elements are all critical to protecting our nation’s food security.”

++++++++++++++++++++

NAWG President and Sentinel, OK wheat farmer Jimmie Musick was invited to attend the official signing of the bill and made the following statement:

“Today marked a historic event not only for wheat growers but all of American agriculture. The 2018 Farm Bill provides farmers with the certainty and stability they need to continue producing a safe and nutritious food supply, while using fewer resources, and maintaining healthy soil for their crop.

“Our growers began developing priorities for the Farm Bill over two years ago in order to put ourselves in the best possible position to advocate for changes to programs that would benefit the nation’s wheat farmers. They’ve been continually engaged with Members of Congress since then to not only advocate for our priorities but to also provide feedback as comprises had to be made in order to finish the bill. This is a good bill which will provide support for farmers at a time when economic and growing conditions are uncertain.

+++++++++++++++++

 

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the 2018 farm bill this week, rumored to be Thursday. The President hinted over the weekend that he would sign the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, saying “we’ll get the farm bill,” at the White House Congressional Ball. Trump said the bill was in “very, very good shape,” according to the Hagstrom Report.

The House and Senate each passed the farm bill last week and Trump must sign it before December 31, 2018, when commodity title programs start to expire. The 2014 farm bill expired at the end of September, but some programs were allowed to operate beyond expiration. Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture needs further action by Congress this week.

Funding for USDA and the Food and Drug Administration expire at the end of this week and federal agencies are preparing for a partial government shutdown as lawmakers and President Trump fight over spending and a border wall.

With the end in sight for the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, which contains provisions likely to grant hemp full agricultural legalization, and revenues from existing hemp products rising, hemp farmers are seeing reasons for excitement this fall.

  • The Farm Bill is set to finally pass through Congress in the near future.
  • Predicted hemp revenues for the next few years are soaring.
  • Hemp is doing particularly well in states with supportive politicians, such as Kentucky.

Sugarmade, Inc. (OTC:SGMD)  has made the most of this opportunity through investment in Hempistry, a hemp cultivator with big plans for expansion. The popularity of cannabidiol (CBD) products means that hemp may soon surpass the value of other cannabis products, which is providing strong profits for companies such as Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ:TLRY). This popularity will likely to lead to growth in the food and beverage industry, one reason why Canopy Growth Corp. (NYSE:CGC) (TSX:WEED) has received substantial investment from that sector. HEXO Corp. (OTC:HYYDF) (TSX:HEXO) plans to increase its 310,000 square feet of cannabis cultivation space to almost 1 million square feet by the end of the year. Meanwhile, Aphria (NYSE:APHA) (TSX:APHA) is developing new products to tap into Canada’s lucrative market.

Hemp Rides High on Wave of Change

Four years ago, it would have been virtually impossible to talk about a hemp industry in the United States. As a variety of the cannabis plant, hemp had been made illegal under legislation decades ago despite not containing significant quantities of the active drug compound that gets marijuana users high from other distinct forms of cannabis. State level reforms had done nothing to protect hemp on a federal level, and the plant was struggling to make its mark.

All that changed with the 2014 Farm Bill, which allowed for the cultivation of hemp at trial and research sites. Together with the emergence of laws in more cannabis-friendly states, this has allowed the industry to take off in a big way. Hemp is being put forward as a potential cash crop to be used in producing fibers, medicines and health foods. Farmers are starting to see big profits from hemp crops. And with fresh legislation on the verge of passing in Washington, the industry appears set for a surge in growth.

Fighting over the Farm Bill

For companies invested in hemp, such as Sugarmade, Inc. (OTC: SGMD), one piece of legislation has dominated the political landscape over the past year – the 2018 Farm Bill.

This year’s farm bill has Sugarmade’s attention because of a section that will remove quality hemp production from drug enforcement restrictions nationwide. Backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, this has been one of the less controversial parts of the bill despite hemp’s illicit history. The possibility of offering struggling farmers a valuable cash crop is one that both parties can get behind.

Unfortunately, this important change for hemp was left in limbo thanks to the other battles over the bill. But now discussions in committee are finally moving towards a finished bill that unifies the House and Senate versions, as the lame duck Republican house majority tries to pass a law it can stomach before control of a dominant voting bloc passes to the Democrats.

Bottom line: the legalization of hemp cultivation could be just days away.

Hemp Heads into the Mainstream

This political change has been facilitated by shifting public attitudes towards hemp. The plant is increasingly popular in food and body care products and has been singled out as one of the top trends for next year by Whole Food Market. That’s good news for Sugarmade, which recently launched its own industrial hemp initiative, as it means there’s not just a consumer market for hemp-derived products but also the political will to make production easier.

These shifts in attitudes are reflected in the varying fortunes of states as well, with some receiving far stronger support for their hemp industry than others. For example, Kentucky’s hemp industry is bolstered by advocacy from the state’s politicians. Congressman James Comer has been outspokenin supporting the state’s industry and in pushing to get the Farm Bill approved.

Sugarmade is among the companies benefiting from Kentucky’s positive attitude towards hemp. The business has invested $1 million in Kentucky hemp company Hempistry to support its high-grade hemp operation for the U.S. market. Harvest of this year’s crop has recently started, following a test harvest of samples by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA), and the company is inviting interested parties to place bids on the crop. With demand for hemp rising, Hempistry’s legally grown, CBD-rich crop is likely to be in high demand.

Rising Hemp Revenues

One of the reasons behind Sugarmade’s investment in Hempistry is the dramatic rise in revenues from hemp crops. A few years ago, no one could have predicted the popularity hemp would achieve by 2018. The crop was mostly a side note, a reminder of the days when its fibers were used to make ropes and sales. When interest in CBD started to expand, producers realized that it could be extracted from industrial hemp. By turning this interest into a separate industry, businesses could sell CBD without becoming entangled in a mass of legal and social uncertainties.

Companies that have made strong investments in hemp cultivation, such as Sugarmade, will gain considerably from hemp’s ascendancy, to the benefit of managers and common share investors. Jimmy Chan, CEO of Sugarmade, commented, “Demand for industrial hemp and products derived from hemp is soaring with no let up in sight. We expect our direct investment into Hempistry to be accretive to common shareholders, and our supply agreement to be lucrative. All of us at Sugarmade see a tremendous opportunity to become a supplier to this fast-growing sector.”