The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the National Industrial Hemp Council (NIHC) co-hosted a webinar “Hemp as a Feed Ingredient: A National Discussion” Aug. 9 to discuss the steps needed to gain approval for hemp as an animal feed ingredient.
The virtual webinar—which had nearly 600 attendees—featured 18 industry professionals who spoke on the following topics: scientific research and data; ingredients review and approval; and interests and concerns everyone is facing. All topics were tailored to address one overarching question, “Why isn’t hemp in animal feed?” according to a press release.
Here are 10 key takeaways from the webinar as listed in the release:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved hempseed oil, hearts and protein powder as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) for human consumption, which panelists used as a basis for conversation.Several industry professionals (producers, researchers, government officials, policymakers, etc.) agree that it’s essential to collaborate on creating safe solutions and practices for the use of hemp in animal feed. “National discussions, forums and multi-industry collaboration will help move the approval process forward with new ideas, procedures and solutions. Finding out what other people are doing and needing across industries and then collaborating will help all industries understand the challenges and opportunities,” according to the release.Extensive research is needed on hemp’s nutritional profile and its effects on the nutrition of animal byproducts.Safety data is essential to “establish specification for hemp as an ingredient and analytical methods that are accurate and validated,” according to the release.“It’s important to establish safety and utility in target animals and pets first, then to ensure the safety of meat, milk and eggs that are marketed for human consumption,” according to the release.State regulatory programs for commercial animal feed are encouraged to address consumer concerns, support land grants, engage with farmers and motivate research.The significant opportunities for hemp seed as an ingredient lie in creating alternative crops for farmers, a good nutrient source for animals and additional raw materials to assist growing populations.The biggest challenges for gaining approval for hemp as an animal feed ingredient include “the acceptance and availability of peer-reviewed safety and utility data for animal feed for different species of animals; the lack of universally accepted standard testing methods for hemp ingredients for inclusion in feed; and a need for additional information,” according to the release.Unified standards that align with regulatory laboratories in charge of feed safety need to be established to create valid methods to test hemp grain for contamination.
Currently, hemp and its byproducts are not approved by the FDA for use in animal feed or animal drug products. In early February, AAFCO issued a joint open letter of concern–signed by 17 industry and regulatory organizations—to “agricultural leaders and policymakers, addressing the need for further education and research to ensure the use of hemp in animal feed is safe,” Cannabis Business Times reported.
Following suit, NIHC issued a letter in March, “inviting AAFCO and industry professionals to collaborate together to achieve safe solutions,” according to the release.
“By co-collaborating with AAFCO, we were able to address a path forward for the hemp and animal-feed industries—working together to identify ways to decrease barriers and speed up approvals. The webinar provided the clarification we all have been craving,” said Hunter Buffington, member of NIHC’s Government Affairs Committee and vice president of policy & advocacy for element6 Dynamics. “With a shared goal, we will soon achieve the regulatory oversight and approval of new feed ingredients for the agriculture, livestock and hemp industries. And that’s good news for all of us.”