USDA chief questions hemp’s use in animal feed, gives nod to plant’s mounting interest

Hemp’s suitability as an ingredient in animal feed “remains to be seen,” according to the nation’s agriculture chief.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters at a cattle-industry conference in New Orleans that he didn’t know animal feed was a potential use of hemp.

“We hear a lot of industrial uses for (hemp), but I think it remains to be seen if part of the product could be used in animal agriculture,” Perdue said in comments first reported by AgWeb.

Hemp is currently banned in U.S. commercial animal feed because it isn’t an ingredient recognized by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, a 50-state association of state agriculture regulators.

It’s unclear what the potential market would be for hemp components in commercial animal feed. A 2017 Colorado study cited “a lack of domestic economic data” about the market.

The USDA and Perdue have said little about how the agency plans to regulate hemp, though the 2018 Farm Bill charged the agency with developing a plan to monitor hemp’s THC levels and approving state-level oversight plans.

Perdue said at the cattle conference that one of his deputies gets “more questions about hemp than probably anything in the Farm Bill.”

The USDA has no deadline for creating hemp regulations.