Governor Greg Gianforte signs HB 396, a bill authorizing hemp food ingredients as commercial animal feed. This bill is a major step forward for the developing U.S. hemp grain industry, opening additional markets for farmers and again establishing Montana as a key leader in production and opportunities for industrial hemp grain. Features of this bill include:
● Clarifying hemp seed food ingredients and substances derived from hemp are included in the definition of commercial feed.
● Providing authority for hemp for use as commercial feed for pets, specialty pets, and horses.
● For other livestock, effectiveness contingent upon FDA-CVM (Food and Drug Administration- Center for Veterinary Medicine) approval of hemp as an approved additive or defined ingredient in animal food or medicated feed for livestock.
This bill was championed by IND HEMP, representing 30+ family farms raising hemp grain in Montana, in coordination with hemp lobby firm Agricultural Hemp Solutions, LLC (AgHS). This bill was passed nearly unanimously by the Montana Legislature and had active support from the Montana Farm Bureau, Montana Farmers Union, Montana Stockgrowers Association, and the Montana Grain Growers Association.
AgHS Chief Legislative Strategist Courtney N. Moran, LL.M. commends the team’s achievement: “HB 396 is a positive and necessary step forward in recognizing hemp as an agricultural crop. Opening the door for hemp as a commercial feed ingredient creates new markets for farmers. I’m proud to work with IND HEMP in advancing industrial hemp grain and fiber policy and infrastructure development.”
Feeding hemp to animals is not currently illegal in the USA, but it is also not specifically legal. For livestock feed, each state Department of Agriculture has the regulatory authority over what can be considered approved feed in their state. Many states, such as California and Montana regulate horses as livestock, and therefore often choose to follow the regulatory guidance of AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) which is a governing body for animal feed use. The concern with feeding hemp to animals is that the government needs to prove beyond a doubt that no THC will accumulate in meat, eggs or milk of animals entering the food supply- even though all harvested hemp is below .3% THC as regulated and hemp seed food products contain less than 10ppm THC, as has been evaluated and approved for human food.
IND HEMP is actively involved in the work being done nationally by the Hemp Feed Coalition, supporting financially as well as IND HEMP founder Ken Elliott serving as President of HFC and COO Morgan Elliott serves on multiple technical committees working to establish the technical basis for ingredient definitions, testing protocols, etc for creating the body of work necessary for each ingredient definition. Please help us in supporting this necessary work by joining the Hemp Feed Coalition !
Hemp is the most digestible and complete plant protein that you can feed to animals and has been fed to all kinds of animals for 1000’s of years and long before prohibition in America. In fact, feeding hemp seed ingredients to horses and pets has been legal and specifically approved in Canada, UK, Australia and other places around the world for years. Holistic vets have used hemp seed oil as a supplement with horses to help support a variety of conditions from inflammation to gut and skin conditions. These products grown by Canadian hemp farmers have been sold into states like Montana for many years. This step by the Montana legislature acknowledges the benefits of feeding hemp and creates a level playing field and new opportunities for Montana farmers and companies such as IND HEMP to participate in this marketplace.
IND HEMP Founder Ken Elliott celebrated the passage: “Once again, Montana provides the right kind of leadership to get business done in these uncertain times. Leadership that is bipartisan and helps our farmers and our rural communities. In Montana, we look forward to building a nationally recognized hemp program founded on grain and fiber production and working with those farmers and businesses who work hard to make things happen.”
In addition to wide support from Montana agricultural trade groups, IND HEMP was proud of local teens Brentlee and Jacynta Bomgardner from Loma, MT who are active in the local 4-H club and within the local ag community in Chouteau County and testified at both the House and Senate hearings in support of feeding hemp to their animals.
Chief Sponsor and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Josh Kassmier, HD 27, guided the victory: “The signing of HB 396 is a great step in promoting the hemp industry in Montana. Hemp provides an additional rotation crop for farmers and value-added opportunities for our rural communities. I look forward to seeing the hemp industry grow in Montana.”
Senate co-sponsor Tom Jacobson, SD11, led efforts on the Senate floor: “Montana’s agricultural future depends on the growth and diversification of hemp. Businesses such as IND HEMP are developing a completely new industry in our state and we as a legislature need to do whatever we can to reduce barriers and provide opportunities for growth. I applaud the Elliott family and their dedication to the development of the burgeoning hemp industry. I am thankful for the opportunity to further legislation that helps pave the way for continued success.
IND HEMP is a family-owned mission-driven industrial hemp oilseed and fiber processing and supply company in Fort Benton, Montana working to create opportunities for farmers and rural communities.