Misinformation about hemp inevitably circulates, despite its increased use. To combat cycles of false information, events such as the NoCo Hemp Expo allow those in the hemp industry to have space to discuss, inform, and learn more about hemp.
At the seventh annual NoCo Hemp Expo, which took place March 25 to 27 in Denver, CO, two such areas of discussion centered on finding markets for hemp and adding hemp to animal feed.
IND HEMP’s Vice President of Operations Morgan Elliott spoke twice during the event. Using her knowledge of the hemp industry coupled with what IND HEMP has learned, Elliott provided compelling information while recognizing there is still much to learn.
“We’d be the first to tell you that we don’t know everything, but we’re going to try to learn as much as we can,” said Elliott during the “Food, Fiber and Flower: Finding Markets” conversation. “Hopefully we can help you guys so that you don’t have to go through the same growing pains that we did.”
For prospective or new growers, Elliott encouraged them to know why they are growing hemp. Despite hemp increasingly infiltrating everyday products, to ensure profit from your crop it is necessary to grow with intention and with the final product in mind.
Additionally, Elliott suggested farmers do research about companies before agreeing to work with them.
“You definitely want to do business with companies that have contracts that are living, breathing people and have facilities that are working and are functional,” said Elliott. “I would do your due diligence to find companies that are more than just the loud voice in the room.”
As much as hemp is infiltrating consumer product, one area it is lagging is animal feed. Current regulations prevent hemp product from being incorporated in animal feed, but there are studies being done to show the positive effects it has on animals to change this.
The Hemp Feed Coalition is an organization working to gain approval for hemp to be used in animal feed. While hemp seed products are recognized as GRAS products, or Generally Regarded As Safe, they still require FDA approval to be included in animal feed.
“The health benefits are primarily nutritional,” says the Hemp Feed Coalition FAQ website page. “For animal health its greatest benefit is in providing general nutrition, finishing for meat production and it has been shown that egg laying hens transfer those omega fatty acids to their eggs.”
In her speech “Hemp for Animal Feed,” Elliott showcased the health benefits of hemp feed meal and the potential benefits it has for animals, including opportunities in breeding programs with data regarding sperm counts and ease of calving births.
Another hemp product with potential to help animals is hemp oil.
“[Hemp oil] has been shown to have a lot of anti-inflammatory properties,” said Elliott. “So you see a lot of horse owners really using this for elder horses or horses that are going to be going into a trailer to go across country or something like that. They’re really seeing a lot of great applications.”
The research from hemp and animal feed is promising. Several universities are engaging in this research to create opportunity for animals to consume hemp, helping both the animals eating hemp product as well as those selling it; Elliott explained there is a market for hemp product and animal feed that should be capitalized on.
“I think there’s a lot of customers already out there demanding these products,” said Elliott. “They’re seeing the results, they see the value of the hemp in their feed products.”