Federal farm bill passes U.S. Senate

U.S. lawmakers have reached an agreement on a farm bill that leaves out a proposal to tighten food stamps criteria backed by President Donald Trump, and offers some financial certainty to farmers suffering from the U.S. trade war with China.

The bill passed the Senate 87-13. Congressional staffers are expecting the House to vote by Thursday and send the bill to Trump for his signature before Friday.

The agreement between Republicans and Democrats on the crucial piece of legislation caps a bitter, months-long debate on the bill, which covers $867 billion worth of food and agriculture programs including crop subsidies and support to growers seeking access to export markets.

 Hemp’s supporters are cheering a final agreement on the federal farm bill that would legalize the crop that’s making a comeback in Kentucky.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the crop is “ready to take off” and has the potential to become a significant cash crop.

McConnell has played a key role in turning hemp into a legal crop by removing it from the federal list of controlled substances.

Growing hemp without a federal permit was banned decades ago because of its ties to marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are the same species, but hemp has a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

The 2014 farm bill allowed hemp to be grown on an experimental basis. Kentucky farmers planted 6,700 acres (2,710 hectares) of hemp in 2018. The legalization of hemp farming is expected to grow into a $20 Billion dollar industry by 2022.

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