BOISE, IDAHO — Idaho’s State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) recently announced that it would enforce a ban on animal feed, pet food and supplements containing hemp or hemp-derived ingredients. Beginning Nov. 1, the selling of animal products with hemp will not be legal.

Though hemp and CBD have not been recognized as legal feed ingredients by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), many states have issued laws and rules, allowing hemp to be included in human and animal food products. In consensus with the FDA and AAFCO, ISDA is not approving the use of hemp or hemp-derived products in animal feed.

“Safe levels of hemp and hemp-derived products in animal feed have not yet been established under federal or state law,” the ISDA shared in a memorandum. “As such, these products are not approved feed ingredients and cannot lawfully be added to or incorporated into commercial feed. This includes feeds, treats and remedies intended for pets, livestock, or any other animal.”

Although Idaho’s legislature passed House Bill 126 legalizing the licensed production and handling of hemp in 2021, the law does not legalize hemp in every setting and within every product. Beginning November, the ISDA will inspect for hemp and hemp-derived animal food products. According to the ISDA, such products found in Idaho will be subjected to a stop sale and further action.

The ban also extends to animal supplements, or “remedies,” as those containing hemp are adulterated and being unlawfully marketed and distributed to Idaho, according to the ISDA.

The National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) co-hosted a community rally with Bark n’ Purr Boise on Sept. 24, notifying animal feed and pet food industries and stakeholders on the ban. Both the NASC and Bark n’ Purr oppose ISDA’s ban for various reasons, including the economic impact the removal of hemp products will have on Idaho-based businesses and the harmful effects the ban could pose on animals and pets if their owners cannot access hemp-based products.

“Removing hemp-derived products from the marketplace is absolutely the wrong answer,” said Bill Bookout, president of NASC. “Doing so paves the way for a black-market industry populated by unscrupulous suppliers hawking questionable products that could actually end up harming the animals that pet owners are trying to help. Or, pet owners may turn to human products that aren’t formulated for pets, or that contain THC and are not safe for animals. There is simply no basis for removing pet owner access to quality products supplied by responsible companies.”

Bookout and Jean Willet, owner of Bark n’ Purr, led the rally.

“We are organizing this rally for one simple reason,” Willett said. “Removal of these products from store shelves and e-commerce will negatively impact hundreds of Idaho businesses and hundreds of thousands of animals.”

As part of the 2018 Farm Bill, the cultivation of hemp was legalized, defining hemp as cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC with concentrations above this limit considered as marijuana. Since the passage of the Farm Bill, hemp-derived animal food products and supplements have flooded the pet care market without significant regulatory action nor negative health effects, according to NASC.

“There have been no significant issues in which negative effects for animal health have been reported for hemp products,” Bookout said. “Data from post-market monitoring along with safety studies show that hemp and cannabinoids, including CBD, do not pose undue risk to companion animals.”

According to data collected by NASC on Aug. 11, there are 1,124 individual SKUs of products containing hemp and hemp-derived ingredients. Since 2010, there have been about 800 million administrations of hemp and hemp-based ingredients to dogs, cats and horses, according to the data, with only 1,595 non-serious adverse events and 10 serious adverse events reported.

Hemp’s inclusion in animal and pet food products has been a lengthy issue since the passage of the Farm Bill.

In February, AAFCO, the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), Pet Food Institute (PFI) and other agricultural industry groups signed a letter urging for more research on the usage of hemp ingredients in animal products. To help open a national conversation on the inclusion of hemp, AAFCO and the National Industrial Hemp Council of America (NIHS) co-hosted a webinar on Aug. 9, detailing the challenges of incorporating hemp in animal feed.

Despite these movements to better understand hemp and its impacts on animal and human health, as well as consumer demand rising for hemp-based animal products, hemp inclusion remains a state issue.

With the ISDA’s hemp ban looming, Bark n’ Purr started a petition to Governor Brad Little (R-Idaho).

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