CHAMPAIGN, ILL. — The Association of American Feed Controls Officials (AAFCO) and the National Industrial Hemp Council of America (NIHC) co-hosted a webinar on incorporating hemp in pet food and animal feed on Aug. 9.

The “Hemp as a Feed Ingredient: A National Discussion” webinar brought together the animal nutrition and hemp industries, as well as regulatory officials to discuss the best practices, challenges, solutions on using hemp. 

“The webinar was not a debate; rather, it was a national discussion on overcoming challenges and gaining approval for hemp seed and hempseed byproducts as ingredients in animal feed,” said Hollis Glenn, member of the board of directors at AAFCO and deputy commissioner of operations for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. 

“The purpose was to connect with industry peers and share meaningful dialogue around moving forward together,” Glenn explained. “This topic has been on everyone’s radar for years. More than ever, it was the right time to stimulate an important industry conversation that brings us all closer to reaching a common goal — and to collaborate on safe solutions.”

Almost 600 attendees gathered virtually, listening to 18 industry experts discuss why hemp isn’t widely incorporated into animal feed and pet food products.

“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,” said Hunter Buffington, member of the government affairs committee at NIHC and vice president of policy and advocacy at element6 Dynamics. “The webinar provided the clarification we all have been craving. 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.”

The webinar was divided into three panel topics: Scientific Research and Data, Ingredient Review and Approval, and General Interest and Concerns.  The panels were moderated by staff members of Agri-Pulse. 

According to AAFCO, 10 major takeaways emerged from the webinar:

  • The clarification on hemp as a feed ingredient and not its potential use as a supplement or medication for animals.
  • The importance of cross-industry collaboration from those in hemp and animal feed industries, as well as government regulators and policymakers, which will help create safer solutions.
  • The need for national discussions, as well as industry forums, that will aid the approval process of hemp across a variety of industries. 
  • The key role research will play in advancing hemp approval and ensuring it meets regulations. More precise research is needed on the nutritional profile of hemp and its impact on the nutritional profile of animal byproducts, like eggs and beef.
  • The understanding of safety data, which remains a No. 1 concern throughout every industry interested in hemp as an ingredient. A better understanding of data will help develop more accurate and validated methods for measuring hemp and establishing a specification for its usage.
  • How to manage hemp safety, which should be established first in animals and pets and then ensured throughout animal byproducts that are marketed for human consumption.
  • The need for more support at the state level. State feed programs can aid in research, help address consumer concerns, support land grants and create engagement with farmers and producers.
  • The biggest opportunity in hemp lies in creating alternative crops for farmers, significant nutrients for animals, and more raw materials to aid growing populations.
  • The availability and acceptance of peer-reviewed safety data and utility research remains the biggest challenge. There is a lack of universally accepted and standardized testing methods for hemp as an inclusion in animal feed that needs to be filled, as well as needs to address the long-term effects on animals and humans.
  • Unified standards need to be established that align with the regulatory labs in charge of feed safety to create more validated methods of testing hemp grains for contamination.

Listen to the full hemp webinar.

Read more about pet food and treat industry events.