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  • Melissa Holme

Hemp Seed Meal in Animal Feed One Step Closer to Federal Approval

Updated: Feb 12

The Hemp Feed Coalition (HFC) has announced a "landmark achievement with the tentative approval of hemp seed meal for laying hens" through AAFCO definition approval. Hemp seed meal is the byproduct of pressing hemp seed for oil, with similar nutritional profiles as soy or canola meal. The proposed definition is as follows:

New Tentative Definition T71.5 Hemp Seed Meal, Mechanical Extracted is the product obtained by grinding or milling the cake, which remains after most of the oil is removed from the seeds of Cannabis sativa L. by a mechanical extraction process. The ingredient must be labeled with guarantees for minimum crude protein and maximum crude fat on an as-fed basis. The meal shall contain no more than 20 ppm of total cannabidiol (Total CBD = CBD + (CBDA x 0.877)) and no more than 2 ppm of total tetrahydrocannabinol (Total THC = delta-9-THC + (THCA x 0.877)). It is used in diets of laying hens as a source of protein and fat at an inclusion of no more than 20% of the diet.

In previous years, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has declined to allow hemp and hemp products in animal feed or pet food in the U.S. AAFCO is an organization comprised of various government agencies to "recognize animal feed ingredients." In short, no new ingredients may be added to animal feed without the approval of AAFCO. AAFCO publishes approved ingredients in its Official Publication, a "comprehensive list of ingredients defined for animal food use." Ingredient definitions may be listed in the AAFCO Official Publication if AAFCO officially defines the ingredient. The adoption into a definition is a rigorous process, as demonstrated below:

As part of the process, the FDA-CVM has validated the safety of hemp seed meal for laying hens, finding "any potential cannabinoid contaminants did not transfer over to human food products." The evaluation also included findings that hemp seed meal is a "safe and viable protein and fat source" for laying hens. The next step in the process will be a required final approval from AAFCO's Board and members; if approved, the definition will be adopted into the Official Publication in 2024. An AAFCO adopted definition for hemp in animal feed will mark a major milestone in the hemp industry;

“Hemp’s integration into animal feed is a catalyst for agricultural advancement. It’s an opportunity for farmers to diversify with lower risk for supply chains to become more sustainable, and for the entire agricultural community to reap the benefits of this versatile crop.” – Andrew Bish, President of HFC and COO of Bish Enterprises, a company rooted in agricultural innovation.

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