Illinois Agriculture Leaders Urged to Support Research to Ensure Safe Use of Hemp as an Animal-Feed Ingredient

Champaign, IL — Seventeen industry and regulatory organizations issued a joint open letter to Illinois agriculture leaders on Feb. 9, calling on them to support greater education and scientific research to ensure the safety of hemp as an animal-feed ingredient prior to any federal or state approval.

Interest in the use of hemp in commercial animal feed has accelerated since the passage of the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act (“Farm Bill”).

While the Farm Bill expanded the legal production of hemp in the United States, the use of hemp in animal feed remains under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state regulatory programs for commercial animal feed.

In addition, lawmakers are being lobbied to consider legislation allowing the use of hemp in feed ingredients before the completion of critical scientific research into the safety of hemp — and before the necessary review by the FDA.

Written by leading organizations for the advancement of livestock production, pet nutrition, veterinary services, laboratory research, animal feed manufacturing, and public health, the letter expresses concern regarding animal health and safety; safety of food from production animals entering the human food chain; and the adverse impact to farmers, ranchers, and the animal feed industry.

Currently, no hemp or hemp derivative ingredients have been approved through the established animal-feed ingredient approved pathways.

Co-signing organizations call on state agriculture leaders to take the following recommended actions toward more education, research, and procedures:

  • Instead of initiating statutory or administrative approval of hemp in animal feed at the state level, work toward ingredient definitions using the defined regulatory pathways used for every animal feed ingredient;
  • Support research through universities or private labs so that the safety and utility of hemp can be fully understood before it is allowed for commercial purposes; and

“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," according to the co-signing organizations.

"Our goal is for more research to ensure the safety and well-being of our animals and our agricultural industry.”

Signatories include: Association of American of Feed Control Officials, Association of Food and Drug Officials, Association of Public Health Laboratories, Academy of Veterinary Consultants, American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition, American Association of Bovine Practitioners, American Dairy Science Association, American Feed Industry Association, American Horse Council, American Veterinary Medical Association, FASS, National Animal Supplement Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Grain and Feed Association, National Pork Producers Council, Nutrition Specialty of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, and Pet Food Institute.

To read the full joint open letter, click here.

Questions should be addressed to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) at aafco@aafco.org.

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