Eric Hurlock, ehurlock
Sen. Judy Schwank will soon be introducing a bill to allow hemp to be used as an ingredient in animal feed.
Pennsylvania state Sen. Judy Schwank announced this week that she will be introducing legislation to allow hemp and its byproducts to be used in commercial feed for meat animals, horses and pets.
The Food and Drug Administration has granted “generally regarded as safe” status to hemp grain for human consumption, but the grain remains federally illegal to feed to animals.
The proposed legislation is similar to that passed in Montana last year, approving “hemp and substances derived from hemp … for use in commercial feed for pets, specialty pets, and horses in Montana, so long as they do not contain more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC,” according to the Montana Department of Agriculture.
In an interview with Lancaster Farming, Sen. Schwank said her proposal has bipartisan support and is co-sponsored by Republican Sen. David Argall and Democratic Sen. John Kane. Schwank was a prime sponsor of the bill that reintroduced hemp to Pennsylvania agriculture in 2015.
Schwank expects some pushback, simply because of the current FDA policy and because of hemp’s stigma and association with marijuana.
“We’re fighting that misinformation that we battled against when we first legalized the production of hemp in Pennsylvania — just this misunderstanding that this was going to have some sort of psychoactive impacts either on humans and on livestock,” she said.
But Schwank doesn’t want Pennsylvania to lose the momentum it has built up around hemp and thinks hemp grain could be a really good fit for Pennsylvania farmers because the infrastructure for harvesting grain is already in place in the state.
By comparison, the infrastructure for processing hemp straw into fiber has yet to develop in the state.
Schwank herself eats hemp grain. “It’s a super food. It really is,” she said. “That’s why I consume it myself. But I know that it could be a real benefit to livestock as well.”
The full interview will be published on the Lancaster Farming Industrial Hemp Podcast, Friday, March 18, 2022