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The hemp industry urges Congress to authorize industrial hemp grain and fiber (hereinafter "hemp") for use as ingredients in animal feed and bedding in the United States. Hemp provides the best available solution to alleviating the hardships U.S. farmers and consumers are facing due to the continuing global feed shortage, while greatly benefiting the U.S. economy and environment. 


The hemp industry proposes that policymakers start authorizing hemp for use as feed ingredients for animals not intended for human consumption (e.g. pets; specialty pets; exotic pets; ornamental fish; horses; livestock not intended for human consumption). Feed for livestock intended for human consumption would continue to require FDA-CVM approval to ensure all safety standards are met. 

The global feed shortage is creating unprecedented competition for feed sources. Animal feed is becoming so expensive it's upending global trade flows. Absent action from policymakers, consumers will feel it soon in increased prices.

This proposal furthers the development of feed regulations and does not avoid them. Authorizing hemp as feed for non-production animals will enable U.S. regulators and industry stakeholders the opportunity to fully study its effects, fund additional research and develop long-term regulations based on sound science.

Why hemp?

Hemp is a superfood! Hemp has all the nutritional traits of other grains used for animal feed and then some. It is richer in nutrients than many compounds consumed by livestock. Hemp feed is high in protein, contains high Abundance of hemp in the United States. There are millions of pounds of hemp grown over the past two years are bagged and ready for sale.

What are the additional benefits of hemp as animal feed and bedding?

Dual cost benefit. Use of domestic hemp for feed enables U.S. farmers to directly support U.S. ranchers while keeping food costs for consumers low.

Drought resistant. Hemp needs little water, and therefore requires far less irrigation than corn, wheat or soybeans.

Increase U.S. competitiveness against global competitors. China currently exports over 60% of the world's industrial hemp. In a struggle to meet traditional feed demand, many American operators are importing vast quantities of feed grain.

Dispelling common hemp feed myths

Hemp feed is not marijuana, cannabinoids, or even CBD. While hemp has long been associated with its psychoactive cousin, marijuana, industrial hemp has none of the psychoactive traits. Under current U.S. federal law, hemp cannot contain more than 0.3% THC (the compound most associated with getting a person "high"). Animal feed comes from hemp grain and fiber and not from cannabinoid or CBD hemp.

Yes, hemp has been found safe for consumption. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration evaluated and recognized hemp seed oil, hemp hearts, and protein powder as "Generally Recognized as Safe" (GRAS) for human consumption.

Montana as the Model

In 2021, AgHS with IND Hemp led the passage of Montana HB 396, opening the Montana Market for hemp as an ingredient in animal feed for pets, specialty pets and horses. The Montana Dept. of Agriculture developed policy guidance Hemp and cannabinoid Policy For Use In Animal Feed, setting out the following framework of approved and unapproved ingredients:

ALLOWED. Hemp and hemp related ingredients that will be allowed only in pet, specialty pet and horse feed:

1. Hemp or substances derived from hemp containing no greater than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

a. Ingredients, including but not limited to, hemp seed, hemp seed cake, hemp seed meal, hemp seed protein, hemp seed flour, hemp seed oil, hemp forage products, and hemp silage.

UNALLOWED. Hemp and hemp related ingredients that will not be allowed in any animal feed.

1. Cannabis and substances derived from Cannabis with greater than 0.3 % THC; and

2. Any, and all CBD products, including CBD oil, derived from industrial hemp; and

3. Industrial hemp seed oil with added CBD or other cannabinoids; and

4. Any hemp substance intended for the use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention in animals, or a substance other than feed intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of animals

This Montana model is a start! 

We urge Congress take action to ensure uniform policy across the U.S. is enacted in a safe and consistent manner, with a rollout approach for pets, specialty pets, horses, and animals not intended for human consumption first, while maintaining that livestock intended for human consumption continues to require FDA-CVM approval to ensure all safety standards are met. 

Acknowledgement of AAFCO and Ingredient Approval Process

We appreciate the statements from AAFCO, and strongly encourage granting funding for additional research on hemp ingredients in animal feed to provide "scientific information and data that demonstrate the safety of the desired hemp or hemp byproduct ingredient" and "to work with key stakeholders, such as FDA, USDA, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, livestock and dairy associations, consumer advocacy groups, and AAFCO to develop a path forward in which hemp byproducts can be legally approved and used."

Join the Animal Feed Campaign today!

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