WASHINTON — On Nov. 3, the National Industrial Hemp Council of America (NIHC) sent a letter to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), urging for the approval of hemp seed as an ingredient in animal feed. NIHC’s President and Chief Executive Officer Patrick Atagi addressed the letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf.

The letter follows NIHC’s webinar, co-hosted with the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), on Aug. 9. The webinar, entitled “Hemp as a Feed Ingredient: A National Discussion,” brought together officials from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), FDA, as well as industry professionals and policymakers, and was attended by more than 1,000 state regulators, hemp industry and veterinary professionals.

According to the NIHC, the approval of hemp seed would benefit both farmers and consumers.

“Part of our mission has been to promote the safe and efficient use of hemp-based animal feed for the production of livestock,” Atagi wrote in the letter. “The US 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% since last year, according to the USDA.”

In the letter, Atagi highlighted the various clinical trials on hemp seed and hemp-based ingredients in animal feed that have been submitted to the FDA. According to the letter, these trials all share the same outcome: no transference of cannabinoids into the food supply chain from animals, including hens, hogs and dairy cattle, feed hemp-based meal.

Atagi also revealed that the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) does not consider hemp seed to be a controlled substance.

“Hemp is an environmentally responsible and domestically grown alternative,” Atagi wrote. “Considering the higher costs associated with the worldwide grain shortage, a sustainable American hemp crop is a nutritious source of animal feed and can lower the cost of farming feed inputs. This would be good news for not just farmers but for consumers who now struggle with the higher costs of milk, meat and eggs.

“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,” Atagi added.

NIHC’s letter follows Idaho’s ban of hemp-based ingredients for use in animal feed and pet food, which took effect on Nov. 1.

Read Atagi’s full letter.

Read more news from associations and agencies in the pet food sector.