WASHINGTON, D.C – The Senate has passed the farm bill, a multibillion-dollar legislative package to fund agriculture and food aid programs.
The legislation comes with an estimated price tag of $867 billion over a decade. It passed the Senate 87-13.
The vote comes less than one day after the House and Senate reached an agreement on the bill, which for months had been caught up in tense negotiations over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.
The bill reauthorizes crop insurance and conservation programs, and legalizes the industrial production of hemp.
The House is expected to pass the legislation soon and send it to President Donald Trump for his signature.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) lauded the bill’s passage, particularly in regard to Colorado hemp production. “For the first time in 50 years, because of this Farm Bill, Mr. President, this bill fully legalizes hemp,” Bennet said. “Now, Coloradans will be able to grow and manufacture hemp without a cloud of uncertainty hanging over them.”
Bennet highlighted difficulties encountered by Colorado hemp producers while the marijuana derivative has been classified an illegal Schedule I Substance. “Our farmers worried about maintaining access to their water, they couldn’t buy crop insurance or transport seeds, some ran into red tape opening a bank account or even applying for Federal grants,” Bennet said. Despite those difficulties, hemp production in Colorado has increased six-fold in the past four years, Bennet said.