Supporters hail Montana bill passage as milestone in development of US hemp grain industry

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/CaraMaria
© GettyImages/CaraMaria

Related tags hemp Fda aafco

The US state of Montana has passed a bill authorizing the use of hemp ingredients in commercial animal feed.

Those championing the legislation said it is major step forward in terms of developing the US hemp grain industry, opening additional markets for farmers, and establishing Montana as a key leader in production and opportunities for industrial hemp grain. 

The 2018 US Farm bill saw recognition for hemp as an agricultural commodity. In the US, animal feed is regulated at both the federal and state level. At the federal level, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates feed. At the state level, it is typically regulated by the state department of agriculture.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a non-regulatory body that promotes the uniform regulation of feed across the US through model regulations, and publishing feed ingredient definitions and terms, linked to the FDA recommendations.

What the bill allows  

Montana state governor, Greg Gianforte, signed the bill, HB 396, which, in a nutshell,

  • Clarifies that hemp seed food ingredients and substances derived from hemp are included in the definition of commercial feed.
  • Provides authority for hemp for use as commercial feed for pets, specialty pets, and horses.
  • And declares that the use of hemp ingredients for other livestock is contingent upon FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA-CVM) approval of hemp as an approved additive or defined ingredient in animal food or medicated feed for livestock.

The bill was passed nearly unanimously by the Montana legislature and had active support from the Montana Farm Bureau, Montana Farmers Union, Montana Stockgrowers Association, and the Montana Grain Growers Association. It was championed by IND HEMP, which represents over 30 family farms raising hemp grain in that US state, in coordination with hemp lobby firm Agricultural Hemp Solutions (AgHS).

US hemp feed approval project 

IND HEMP is also actively involved in the work being done nationally by the US Hemp Feed Coalition, which, in February 2021, completed its first submission for hemp to become an approved feed ingredient for consideration by AAFCO and the FDA-CVM.

IND HEMP founder, Ken Elliott, said Montana farmers can now look towards building a nationally recognized hemp program founded on grain and fiber production.

Also commenting on the passage of the bill was AgHS chief legislative strategist, Courtney Moran: “HB 396 is a positive and necessary step forward in recognizing hemp as an agricultural crop. Opening the door for hemp as a commercial feed ingredient creates new markets for farmers.”

Montana House of Representatives agriculture committee chairman, and chief sponsor of the bill, Josh Kassmier, said hemp provides an additional rotation crop for farmers and value-added opportunities for rural communities. “I look forward to seeing the hemp industry grow in Montana."


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