WASHINGTON - After months of trying to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill, conferees struck a deal and filed language early this week on a compromise Farm Bill. Yesterday, members of the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to pass the sweeping measure by a vote of 87-13. The House is scheduled to vote on the measure this week.
The Farm Bill is especially relevant to the convenience store industry because it reauthorizes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). More than 119,000 convenience stores accept SNAP benefits and serve the communities in which they operate. During the Farm Bill process, NACS has advocated for the critical role convenience stores play in providing access to food for SNAP beneficiaries.
In the compromise bill, the main provision impacting the convenience industry is language that bans processing fees on EBT transactions through 2023 and reiterates the ban on interchange fees. As retailers have seen on the commercial side, these fees escalate over time and negatively impact the price of goods. NACS along with other retail trade associations has spent the last two years educating lawmakers on this issue and the need for a permanent ban on fees.
Another significant provision in the 2018 Farm Bill is language legalizing products that come from hemp, and hemp-derived products containing CBD oil, so long as they contain less than 0.3% THC. This provision was the top priority of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who wanted to open the market to help hemp farmers and processing facilities in Kentucky.
It is expected the House will consider the Farm Bill later this week and it is expected to pass without issue. President Trump has signaled that he supports the bill and will sign it into law. Please stay tuned to the NACS Daily for updates on the process.