Last week voters went to the polls in record numbers and they decided to make a course correction. Republican’s held onto their majority in the Senate but Democrats gained the majority in the House for the 116th Congress which begins in January. This means that there will need to be more bipartisanship to get things done over the next two years.
We have been hopeful that a new Farm Bill would be passed this year but hopes began to fade when negotiations stalled prior to the mid-term elections. Staff discussions continued while members were campaigning but all indications were that other priorities might keep hemp from being legalized this year.
This week we received some good news that negotiations were back on and there was an urgency to reach agreement on a new Farm Bill. Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts said today that farm bill negotiators are “very close” to striking a deal and are working on a nutrition title that blends ideas from the House and Senate bills.
“We’re close now; we’re closer than we’ve ever been before,” the Kansas Republican said, adding: “I’m very happy about the progress we’ve made.”
We at Vote Hemp are very encouraged by Chairman Roberts comments and believe we will know by tomorrow if an agreement is reached. There isn’t much time left in the lame duck session so negotiators need to agree on a conference report this week in order to get it approved by the House and the Senate before Congress adjourns for the year.
We also received some good news from Majority Leader McConnell who has been championing hemp in the Senate and as a conferee. “If there’s a Farm Bill, it’ll be in there, I guarantee that,” he told reporters on Friday when asked about hemp.
Based on this weeks developments, we are feeling very positive about the prospects for a Farm Bill agreement that will legalize commercial hemp farming. We will keep you posted as things develop.