Colorado’s Hemp Animal Feed Bill Clears House Of Representatives

Industrial hemp as animal feed
Image : CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

After a third reading in Colorado’s House, a bill that could ultimately see hemp products again allowed in animal feed is now headed to the State’s governor for his signature.

The bill fully passed the House of Representatives on Friday (local time) after a unanimous 63 to 0 vote.

As we briefly mentioned in February, the bill would see Colorado’s Department of Agriculture appoint a group to study the feasibility of using hemp in animal feed, something is currently illegal in the state.

The group will include:

  • a hemp producer
  • a hemp processor
  • a legal expert,
  • a representative from an institution of higher education who has studied hemp policy
  • a veterinarian
  • a livestock producer

It could also include other persons the Commissioner believes would assist in understanding the legal, practical, or business aspects associated with using hemp products in animal feed.

The group will complete its work and make any legislative recommendations by the end of 2017.

Sponsors of  Senate Bill 17-109 are Senator Kerry Donovan and Representative Jeni Arndt. It’s obviously an issue close to Senator Donovan’s heart – her occupation is listed as being a rancher.

At a hearing on March 6, representatives from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and from several hemp and marijuana businesses spoke in support of the bill.

Both industrial hemp seed and fibre can be used in animal feed applications.

Hemp seed (actually a nut) is high in essential fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals. While it contains very little of the psychoactive compound THC, there have been some concerns what little there is could negatively impact poultry.

Industrial hemp fibre helps to stimulate the rumen of cattle and promote better absorption of nutrients.

There are already farmers elsewhere in the USA feeding hemp to cattle with good results – and have been doing so for years.

In Holland, farmers have also been feeding cattle hemp fibre as a supplement for a long, and the practice is only growing in popularity. The hemp-fed cows reportedly provide a little more milk and generally experience better health.

As well as the potential for feed, industrial hemp also makes for excellent animal bedding.

With the myriad uses for industrial hemp, the period when growing it was banned in countries including the USA and Australia will no doubt be looked upon by future generations as one of insanity.