US lawmakers told of risk from side-stepping formal review process for use of hemp in feed

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/John M Lund Photography Inc
© GettyImages/John M Lund Photography Inc

Related tags hemp aafco Fda Afia safety

US industry and regulatory groups are calling on US state leaders and lawmakers to support scientific research to ensure the safety of hemp as an animal-feed ingredient prior to any federal or state approval.

The 17 US organizations including the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), in an open letter​ to US state agriculture leaders, warn that lawmakers are being lobbied to consider legislation allowing the use of hemp in animal feed before the completion of critical scientific research​ into the safety of hemp and before the necessary review by the FDA.

The organizations expressed concern regarding the inclusion of hemp in feed prior to such oversight taking place in terms of animal health and safety; safety of food from production animals entering the human food chain; and the adverse impact to farmers, ranchers, and the US feed industry.

US Farm Bill

Interest in the use of hemp in commercial feed has accelerated since the passage of the 2018 US Farm Bill.

While that legislation expanded the legal production of hemp in the US, the use of hemp in feed remains under the jurisdiction of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state regulatory programs for commercial feed.

Currently, no hemp ingredients have been approved through the established US animal feed ingredient review pathways.

“It would be imprudent to bypass these established procedures needed to protect both human and animal health and unilaterally legislate approval of animal feed ingredients at the state level. We are concerned that state leaders and the general public may not be fully aware that any new ingredient intended for animal feed must go through a scientific and legal review process to ensure safety and utility,”​ reads the letter.

AAFCO published a similar call to action ​to lawmakers back in September 2021.

Proposals to state agriculture leaders 

The organizations called on state agriculture leaders to:

  • Work toward ingredient definitions using the defined regulatory pathways used for every feed ingredient, instead of initiating statutory or administrative approval of hemp in feed at the state level.
  • Support research through universities or private labs so that the safety and utility of hemp can be fully understood before it is allowed to be used for commercial purposes.
  • Continue to assemble data, and to work on submitting applications through the established feed ingredient review process.

According to the co-signing organizations: “We understand the importance of supporting the hemp industry and, yet we also believe it’s simply too soon to know if hemp is safe for farm and ranch animals, as well as our pets. Our goal is for more research to ensure the safety and well-being of our animals and our agricultural industry.”​  

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