The National Industrial Hemp Council (NIHC) sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Nov. 3, urging the federal agency to approve hemp as an animal feed ingredient. 

In the letter, the NIHC referred to a virtual webinar it co-hosted with the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Aug. 9, which addressed the steps needed to approve hemp as an animal feed ingredient. 

Government regulators, veterinarians, university researchers and hemp advocates participated in the webinar, which “showed great interest and agreement on hemp’s potential as a nutritious feed source for production animals,” NIHC officials wrote.

“Part of our mission has been to promote the safe and efficient use of hemp-based animal feed for the production of livestock. The U.S. agriculture industry is struggling with a global grain shortage that is a direct result of the war in Ukraine. This has resulted in a direct increase in inputs for all domestic livestock producers of 16 percent since last year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA),” NIHC’s letter stated.

“From our perspective, there is no reason why the FDA hasn’t already approved hemp seed-based animal feed ingredients,” NIHC officials added. “We have seen numerous clinical trials, by Land Grant Universities and others, submitted to the FDA that all show the same outcome, that there is no transference of cannabinoids into the nation’s food supply chain from animals raised on hemp seed meal. Those results are consistent across the various species of animals, including laying hens, hogs, and dairy cattle.”

Officials noted NIHC understands the FDA’s concerns about cannabinoids entering the nation’s food supply; however, it stated that its “advocating for feeding hemp seed to animals that can contain cannabinoids.”

“The distinction should be made clear to policymakers: hemp seeds are biologically incapable of producing cannabinoids,” NIHC’s letter stated.

Moreover, NIHC officials referenced that the FDA has already approved hemp-seed products such as hearts, oils, and protein powder for human consumption.

“We believe that the FDA-CVM’s (Center for Veterinary Medicine) current concerns over cannabinoids that are only quantifiable in parts per billion or even parts per trillion in animal residues are not a safety issue but rather, unnecessary scrutiny,” NIHC officials wrote. 

The council added that it believes the issue of cannabinoids in hemp seeds was already addressed when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency announced earlier this year that seeds containing no more than 0.3% THC are uncontrolled and legal.

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“This should be a clear signal to not just farmers and consumers but also the FDA that hemp seed is a safe food ingredient for livestock production,” NIHC wrote. “We stand ready to work with your agency to provide American-produced hemp seed as a viable feed alternative for livestock producers and American consumers struggling to reign in the increased price of food due to higher inputs and inflation.”


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