One of the world’s largest food processors, the Chicago-based Archer Daniels Midland Company, is lobbying on industrial hemp at the federal level. The company, which is one of the four biggest agribusinesses in the world (the other three being Bunge Ltd., Cargill Inc, and Louis Dreyfus Co.) is the first to openly lobby on the subject.
“Like many others in the industry, we are watching the situation closely,” Jackie Anderson, a spokesperson for Archer Daniels Midland told Cannabis Wire. “There is a lot of interest from farmers and from our customers around hemp and hemp-based ingredients for use in food, beverages and dietary supplements, among other uses. At this time, there is confusion in the marketplace because of the way specific hemp-derived ingredients are currently classified by FDA.”
Big agricultural companies have not made any significant moves to enter the hemp industry since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp last December. (Conagra Brands, however, introduced a non-cannabis corn and potato snack targeted towards cannabis users on April 20 this year through their Andy Capp’s line of products. They announced the snack with a tweet that read, “We’re starting with this. Up next: full legalization & release of prisoners held on non violent marijuana charges.”)
But there are concerns among small and medium sized farmers about their eventual entry and potential takeover of the market, Jonathan Miller, general counsel to the US Hemp Roundtable told Cannabis Wire.
“It all depends on what they’re lobbying for,” Miller said about Archer Daniels Midland. “If they’re lobbying for more clear laws on state legalization or to get the FDA to develop a legal regulatory structure, then that’s great.”
But if they’re coming in to “try to negatively affect the ability of smaller farmers to farm hemp,” then farmers would have to put up a fight, he said. However, he added, there will ultimately be enough market space for everyone.
“I’m really optimistic,” Miller said. “Right now there’s such a huge market for CBD. That is going to expand into fibre products as well. And I think we’re going to start seeing hemp companies move into hemp plastic and construction materials.”
Archer Daniels Midland, known for processing oilseeds, corn, soybeans and other agricultural products, lobbied the US House and Senate, and the Department of Agriculture in the second quarter of 2019 on “matters relating to safety, availability, and labeling of food, industrial hemp; Farm Bill (H.R. 2),” according to lobbying disclosures. The company’s directors of government relations and senior director of international government relations are all listed as lobbyists on the subject.
Editors’ note: This story was updated at 12:30 p.m. on September 10 with comment from Archer Daniels Midland Company.