Government Gets Something Done! The Farm Bill.

Let’s face it. It seems that our government is just not working well right now. The government shut down, at the time of this writing, is already the longest in history. However the Farm Bill of 2018 is a stand out of bipartisan work given this divided nation. 

Let’s pick an adjective to describe the relationship between congress and the president. Cooperative or agreeable would probably be the last two on the list. It seems without some sort of change that is only going to get worse over the next two years.

Hello, Farm Bill 2018!

However, the Farm Bill of 2018 is a bright spot, thankfully in these divided times. This was the first Farm Bill to be introduced and signed into law by congress in the same year. 

After 8 months of back and forth, the 807-page compromise bill, easily passed the Senate on December 11th with a 87-13 vote. A day later it gained approval in the House with a 369-47 vote. That is pretty good. Government working together to get something positive done for the American farmer. 

Then, on December 20th, 2018, the Farm Bill was signed into law by President Trump. Right before the government shut down and congress going into recess for the holiday season. 

The $867 billion farm bill budget provides over $600 billion to federal nutrition programs. It also provides a safety net to the long suffering farm industry which took an unexpected hit in 2018. That year, China imposed retaliatory tariffs, to tariffs which we introduced on them. Right or wrong these tariffs are estimated to impact U.S. agriculture by over 4 billion dollars over the next year. 

The Farm Bill helps to provide additional stability for the agricultural community. It also, and pertinent to those of us reading and writing here, legalized the growth and production of hemp. At last removing it from the it from the federally banned crops.

The Farm Bill and Hemp’s Past

Hemp has been an important crop here in the U.S. and around the world for thousands of years. Thomas Jefferson once stated, “Hemp is the first necessity to the wealth and protections of the country.” Hemp was so important in early U.S. history that farmers were required to grow it and were even allowed to pay taxes with it. Who would have ever thought that was a thing? 

Although hemp is versatile, following the invention of the cotton gin, its cultivation decreased around the U.S. Simply put, harvesting hemp manually was extremely labor intensive. The mechanical cotton gin sped up the processing of cotton so much that hemp could no longer compete. 

In the early 1900s, hemp very nearly made a comeback. In 1917, a machine that reduced hemp’s harvesting time was patented in the U.S. by American George W. Schlichten. This machine separated the fiber from the internal woody core (called ‘Hurds’) and increased fiber yield significantly. In fact, the cost of processing hemp was reduced by a factor of 100. 

This should have signaled the comeback of hemp.

Big Business and the Demonization of Hemp

Instead, shortly after that, a propaganda campaign against hemp was created by companies with vested interests. These were companies in the new petroleum based synthetic textile industry, chemical development, and the large and powerful newspaper / lumber industries. Invested in lumber and cotton, they saw a hemp resurgence as a threat to their businesses. 

Harry Anslinger, the commissioner the the Alcohol Prohibition department of the federal government, was out of a job following the end of prohibition. He had familial ties to one of the above vested interests, Andrew Mellon, the owner of Mellon bank. Mellon was also the U.S. Secretary of Treasury at that time. It was Mellon who created the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and made Harry Anslinger its first commissioner. 

Then it was payback time.

The Birth of Marijuana Madness and Hemp

Harry Anslinger heard rumors about Mexican immigrants smoking the majority of the hemp plant. They called it “marijuana”. Anslinger used this opportunity to increase his and the Bureau of Narcotics standing and return the favor to Mellon and his associates. Anslinger used the slang word marijuana in place of hemp and began spreading rumors about “Negroes and Mexicans” becoming violent while smoking marijuana. In the racist society of the time, the stories stuck and made the public afraid. William Hearst, who invested in timber and mills to produce paper for his newspapers, got on board. His newspapers also forwarded the line that hemp / marijuana was “dangerous”.

 The net result of this negative campaign against hemp and the adoption and demonization of the term “marijuana” was virtual disappearance of hemp farming in America. In 1937 the Marijuana Tax Act was signed into law. This law effectively outlawed the possession and transfer of marijuana throughout the United States. This, by extension, also made hemp illegal. Some say that hemp was lumped in with marijuana due the the confusion between the two plants. Truthfully it is also likely it was because of the vested interests who benefited from hemp becoming illegal.

  growing hemp a positive industry

Hemp’s Future

Now that the Farm Bill defines hemp as resolutely separate from marijuana the future looks bright for hemp. It will no longer be considered a controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency. This means that the legality of growing, processing and crossing state lines will be unhindered at a federal level moving forward. However, the Farm Bill does not preempt state law. It will be up to the states to regulate hemp production and processing. 

What we can be certain of, is that more farmers will consider growing hemp. Good news for family farms, an industry which has shrunk by two-thirds since the great depression according to USDA reports

The passage of the Farm Bill is good news in our current trade stand-off with China. China currently produces 50% of the world’s supply of cannabis according to a report in Forbes–largely hemp. It is estimated that the legalization of hemp in the US, it will grow to be a 22 billion dollar industry

And why not? Hemp has a ton of uses, from cloth to industrial materials to CBD. 

The passage of the Farm Bill opens the door to advertising, investment and research into the possibilities for hemp that were not previously available. 

It is indeed an exciting time.


A Hemp Business is Born – Fusion CBD

If you had asked either of Fusion CBD’s Founders in 2008 if they would be in the hemp business in ten years, neither would have come guessed it. But in reality, the building blocks were already in place for that to happen. 

Adam Kurtz grew up in upstate New York, a third generation farmer. But Adam left that all behind for a fast-paced life as a professional photographer in New York City. 

Ed McCauley ran the McCauley Custom Homes business for 30 years. However, his joy had more to do with his interest in the adventure of building companies, not necessarily homes. 

They initially met in October of 2015 at Ed’s home office in Orange Co, New York. Following that meeting, both of their lives took a turn back to exploring their new found shared vision and passion .

From Plants to Photos to Hemp Business

Adam Kurtz hemp pioneer

Adam’s grandparents were dairy and vegetable farmers. His parents later founded Grammy’s Garden, a fresh-cut plant business that operated for over 30 years. Grammy’s Garden was a 12-acre plant farm that produced 200-300 varieties of plants. This is where Adam spent his childhood helping on the family farm. Grammy’s Garden brought over 200,0000 plants a year from seed to market. Adam grew up learning about the real-life successes and challenges of running a family farm, watching and helping his parents. 

As an adult, Adam became a professional photographer. He married and he and his wife had a little girl. In 2013 he helped his family sell off their farm equipment when his parents retired from the farming business. However, something struck him as a part of the process. Maybe there was more to farming than he understood in his youth. 

There was no denying it – farming was in his blood. In 2014, less than a year after selling his parents equipment, Adam began looking at jumping into farming once again. He was inspired to by the legalization of medical marijuana in New York and the potential of hemp farming. He decided to focus his attention on industrial hemp and the benefits of CBD alone, without the THC. 

In 2015, Adam met Ed and the idea of forming a hemp business began to more seriously take form. 

The timing for Adam’s family was good his wife’s employer, Mercedes Benz, was relocating its headquarters to Atlanta. The choice to make a move and start the hemp business was born. Hemp farming went from an idea to being a reality within three months. Adam and his family moved west to Oregon.

Growing Hemp in Oregon

For Adam, moving his young family across the country to start a new life was a big decision. Based upon Oregon’s vast availability of fertile land, the choice or which state to land in was relatively easy. Adam’s family settled in Boring, Oregon. He then went to work building a 3,000 square-foot greenhouse on a piece of farmland 45 minutes east of Portland. 

Adam’s original inspiration, his parents Mark and Sandy, traveled to Oregon to help him build the first greenhouse.

From Home Builder to Hemp Business Pioneer

Ed McCauley hemp pioneer 

Ed McCauley started a small residential contracting company in his early 20’s. He quickly developed a passion for design and appreciated the value of being self-employed. This included a philosophy on being able to tackle any project, large or small, and enjoying the challenges that went along with this thinking. It wasn’t long before he found himself doing design, consulting, and engaging in major, high-end residential construction projects. 

Then the economy started to turn. It was clear that the industry was shifting, making it far less enjoyable. In his fifties, he would ask himself, “What am I gonna do when I grow up?” 

It was exactly at this time that Ed was introduced to Adam by a mutual friend. Adam presented Ed with this “crazy idea” about starting a farm and hemp business somewhere on the west coast. What Ed knew about the hemp business and the law surrounding it, could be summarized on any given day watching the network news. 

But Ed was open-minded and in a few short meetings with Adam, they shook hands on the basic idea of their hemp business. Utilizing Adam’s rediscovered passion for farming and seed genetics and Ed’s love for the adventure of business building, a company was born. In early 2016, the two formed Oregon Fusion L.L.C.

Fusion CBD is Born in Boring

The first year, Ed flew to Oregon almost every weekend to help Adam with the harvest. Ed recalls sitting on the back of Adam’s truck, in the rain, looking at Mt. Hood and asking himself, “How did I get here?” Since then, there has been no looking back, only forward. And this is where the shift from being just a partner in the hemp business started becoming his main interest. By the middle of 2017, Ed was completely done with what he had been doing. 

It was official, Ed and Adam were in the hemp business. 

What began as a simply a business opportunity however has grown into so much more. When they started the hemp business, they called it Oregon Fusion as their first farm is based in Boring, Oregon.

Helping Local Farmers Grow Their Hemp Business

Their hemp business has grown and with it connections to other local farmers who are interested in hemp as a sustainable crop for their farm land. They changed the name to Fusion CBD in 2018 to reflect the network of local farms they are helping introduce to the hemp business. 

In a short span of time Fusion CBD has been able to adapt in a rapidly evolving industry. The excitement that Adam and Ed share seeing how Fusion CBD’s products bring major positive change in people’s lives is nothing more than they could have imagined. 

However, beyond those personal CBD testimonials comes the thrill of participating in contributing to revitalizing the local farming industry. It’s no secret that farming has been a declining industry for decades, with local family farms hit the hardest. The hemp business has the opportunity to effect major change for many generational farmers by showing them how to farm hemp and helping them participate in a profitable alternative agricultural crop. 

Adam and Ed are excited to be actively involved in bringing their CBD products to consumers while simultaneously helping other small farmers by providing technical support and advanced hemp genetics.

Fusion CBD Today

Adam continues to farm and develop new and more effective genetics strains of hemp and identify more effective CBD / Terpene profiles on the west coast in Oregon. Meanwhile, Ed works to expand the company’s product line, building infrastructure, and managing sales and day-to-day operations, out of the main office in Bergen County, New Jersey. While also recruiting other farmers to get in on the ground floor of the hemp business with the scientific and business help of Fusion CBD. 

Plans are also underway to a new 32,000 square-foot greenhouse located in Warwick, New York a huge jump up from Fusion CBD’s original 3,000 square-foot greenhouse only two short years ago. 

Most recently, Fusion CBD is engaged in helping the entire hemp industry move forward in terms of scientific validation by opening a clean room for advanced hemp research in cooperation with the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. 

Fusion CBD continues to expand its network of partner farms and their own line of full-spectrum hemp products. What started as a brief meeting about getting something started, paper napkins, big ideas as taken root and Fusion CBD is expanding its footprint on a industry that is only going to become more of a factor in people’s lives.