Group met for four months to discuss the use of hemp seed for animal feed | TheFencePost.com

Group met for four months to discuss the use of hemp seed for animal feed

Hemp seeds that are soon-to-be planted sit at Rick Trojan's farm, Colorado Cultivars, near Eaton. Farmers must be vigilant of the weather as planting season approaches for hemp; farmers often aim to have the crop planted by mid to late spring.

The Colorado legislature, earlier this year, approved a bill that started a conversation between agriculture and regulatory leaders on the issue of hemp as a viable option for animal feed.

Hemp is a cousin to marijuana but doesn't cause a person to get high, which is a distinct difference between the two cannabis strands. However, because of the connection, hemp is still illegal at the federal level, with certain exceptions for parts of the plant.

One of those is the seed, which is used to make hemp oil, and could potentially be used in animal feed. That is, if it gets approved.

In Colorado, hemp was legalized in 2012 when Colorado voters also voted to legalize recreational marijuana. It's a growing industry, which doubled in production in 2017.

“Whomever tries to get approval for hemp in feed should stick to the aspects that are exempt, such as the seed. By going that route, there should be a better chance for hemp to be approved for feed, even if it’s only part of the plant.”

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FEASIBILITY

A group of more than 40 stakeholders from multiple entities met for four months to discuss the feasibility of using hemp as an ingredient in livestock feed. The group wasn't tasked with conducting a study or coming to a conclusion about whether or not hemp should even be used as a feed ingredient.

They met to come up with the steps and process necessary for whoever does decide to take on that task.

Hollis Glenn, division director for the Inspection and Consumer Services program with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, is working on the draft of the findings from the meetings, which will be given to the state legislature before the end of the year. Glenn said the group only had four months, which wasn't enough time, but they were able to come up with the steps necessary to get hemp approved.

Glenn said whomever tries to get approval for hemp in feed should stick to the aspects that are exempt, such as the seed.

By going that route, Glenn said, there should be a better chance for hemp to be approved for feed, even if it's only part of the plant.

Go for the "low-hanging fruit," as Glenn put it.

FEED INGREDIENT APPROVAL

The group can't say whether or not hemp will actually get approved as a viable ingredient for animal feed, but by going through the same process as every other feed ingredient, they will at the very least get an answer. Glenn said there should be a collaborative effort in the private industry, which includes growers, processors and researchers. The Colorado Department of Agriculture is not taking a stance on whether or not hemp should be allowed. The department's involvement is simply to help make the process of seeking approval understandable.

In order for any ingredient to get approval for animal feed, it must go through the American Association of Feed Control Officials. That group will look at whether or not it's safe, based on research, whether or not there is nutritional benefit to animals, what species it can be fed to, etc.

"Is it feasible, is it possible? The answer is yes. It is possible," Glenn said. ❖

— Fox is a reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at (970) 392-4410, sfox@thefencepost.com or on Twitter @FoxonaFarm.