FAQs on Hemp as Commercial Feed

Colorado Department of Agriculture - Commercial Feed Program:
FAQs on Use of Hemp as a Commercial Feed Ingredient in Colorado

The Commercial Feed Program within the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) has recently received a number of questions regarding the use of hemp, including cannabidiol (CBD) oil, as an animal feed ingredient for livestock and household pets.

This informational guide has been created to answer some of these questions and provide some basic information for commercial feed manufacturers and animal owners on the current regulations of animal feed in Colorado regarding the use of hemp as a feed ingredient.

Q: Should I feed hemp or CBD oil to my animal?

The use of hemp and hemp derivatives in commercial feed is a relatively new trend, so it can be difficult to get a clear picture of the pros and cons of using feed with hemp to feed your animals.However, making an informed decision is always important when choosing what to feed your animals. If you have questions about feeding hemp to your livestock or household pet, CDA encourages you to talk with your veterinarian.

Currently, hemp is not an approved ingredient for commercial feed.The use of an ingredient or feed additive that is not pre-approved can result in the feed being considered adulterated and not allowed for distribution in Colorado or other states. Please see questions below for information on how new ingredients can become approved for use in commercial feed.

Q: Can I make commercial feed that contains hemp, including CBD oil?

Currently, CDA does not approve registration applications for commercial feed products that contain hemp since it is not an approved ingredient recognized by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO, an organization of state agriculture departments from all 50 states) or the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine. CDA’s decision not to approve these products complies with AAFCO’s position on hemp as well as the positions of other state agriculture departments. Products in the Colorado marketplace containing unapproved ingredients can be subject to Withdrawal from Distribution Orders.

Q: Can I buy or sell commercial feed that contains marijuana?

Marijuana and marijuana derivatives will continue to be deemed adulterants in commercial feed, and immediate Withdrawal from Distribution Orders and other regulatory actions will be taken when products containing marijuana are found in distribution.

Q: Who decides whether hemp becomes legal to use in animal feed?

Commercial feed is regulated by the FDA at the federal level, and by CDA at the state level.The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine is responsible for determining the safety and efficacy of all feed ingredients.

Ingredients and feed additives must be “pre-approved” to be used in commercial feed, either through an existing exemption or regulation, or through an ingredient definition with AAFCO. AAFCO works closely with the FDA and the commercial feed industry to develop a uniform regulatory standard for commercial feed ingredients used across the country. As a member of AAFCO for over 60 years, CDA has adopted AAFCO’s list of approved ingredients to apply to commercial feed distributed in Colorado.

Q: Is there a path forward for hemp to become an approved ingredient?

Because of the increasing interest in using hemp in commercial feed, Senate Bill 17-109 was recently passed through the Colorado Legislature and signed by Governor Hickenlooper. Originating from the Colorado hemp industry, this bill calls for a study group under the Commissioner of Agriculture to examine the feasibility of allowing hemp products in commercial feed.

The group will explore a number of aspects related to this study, including the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine and AAFCO approval process, economic and regulatory concerns, and animal nutrition and safety. This study is not intended to be a scientific research study, but rather a review of the broad logistical and practical aspects of adding hemp into commercial feed.

The bill establishes a wide spectrum of stakeholders involved with hemp production, animal nutrition, commercial feed regulation, and livestock production. Specifically, designating experts in hemp production and processing, legal experts, policy research analysts from institutions of higher education, veterinarians, livestock producers, feed manufacturers, and any other experts the Commissioner determines will help the study group understand the legal, practical, or business considerations of allowing hemp products in commercial feed. More information on this study group will be made available this summer.

Q: What does the CDA Commercial Feed Program do?

The CDA Commercial Feed Program registers feed manufacturers and commercial feed products distributed or sold in Colorado. In order to distribute commercial feed in the state, feed manufacturers and guarantors must register their commercial feed products with the CDA each year. The CDA registers over 10,000 commercial feed products intended for both livestock and household pets.

CDA staff oversee the commercial feed industry by reviewing product labels to ensure important consumer information, such as ingredients and nutritional claims, is properly disclosed and that the label does not have false or misleading claims.

Field inspectors throughout the state inspect commercial feed in distribution and gather over 800 feed samples each year. These samples are tested by the CDA-Biochemistry Laboratory to confirm the nutritional facts listed on the labels are accurate and the feed is not adulterated.

Q: Why does the CDA Commercial Feed Program exist?

The CDA Commercial Feed Program exists to:

●Ensure commercial feed is safe for Colorado livestock and household pets
●Provide consumers with necessary information on feed products
●Support the growth of Colorado’s commercial feed industry

Q: How can I get more information about the CDA Commercial Feed program or hemp in feed?

There are a number of ways you can get more info about hemp in commercial animal feed:

  1. Sign up as an interested party if you would like to receive additional information on hemp and the CDA Commercial Feed program. Please note that this interested party list is not for consideration to be on the stakeholder group for SB17-109.
  2. If you are interested in being considered for the stakeholder group please call Scott Ziehr 303-869-9097.
  3. Explore additional guidance found on the FDA and the AAFCO websites
  4. Friend us on Facebook.