WASHINGTON — The House on Wednesday passed a $867 billion U.S. Farm Bill that allocates billions of dollars in subsidies to American farmers, legalizes hemp, and rejects stricter limits on food stamps that had been pushed by House Republicans. The bill, which passed the Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 87-13, now heads to the president’s desk for signature.
The legalization of hemp production is potentially a big deal for U.S. retailers and suppliers, as it is seen as allowing for national sales of a wide range of hemp-based products in a variety of categories. This business is projected grow into a $20 billion industry by 2022.
The food stamp portion of the bill is also important to food retailers, as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is significant driver of sales for many chains.
The Food Marketing Institute applauded the bill’s passage, arguing that it would help food retailers keep costs down while also fostering innovation and efficiencies.
“The 2018 Farm Bill leverages technology to better serve every customer shopping in our members’ grocery stores,” said Hannah Walker, senior director of technology and nutrition policy at FMI. “It drives modernization in the electronic benefit transfer (EBT) systems, while protecting retailers from unfair and predatory interchange and processing fees. FMI is also pleased the Farm Bill encourages creative proposals from retailers who would like to incentivize SNAP customers to buy more fresh fruits, vegetables, milk and whole grains in addition to permanently authorizing the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program.”