Written by: Louise Calderwood | March 3, 2023
Every January, the “in-session” map on our state legislative and regulatory tracking service starts to light up as most state legislatures open for business. By mid-February, 45 states are in regular session and one state is in a special session. These next few months, we will certainly be busy tracking bills and working with state and regional associations to minimize negative impacts brought on the industry by overly ambitious legislators.
This year, we have the usual assortment of state bills and other measures with creative, though illegal, approaches to the use of hemp as an animal food. Kansas HB 2168 proposes to allow hemp fiber, grain and seeds to be used as food for livestock, poultry and pets and authorizes the secretary of agriculture to lower the licensing and registration fees for hemp products. Minnesota HB 100 proposes to develop an office of cannabis management to support the commissioner of agriculture in the development of interagency agreements for edible cannabinoid products for humans and animals. The bill also proposes to establish a division of social equity to address communities that experienced a disproportionate, negative impact from cannabis prohibition.
State by state approaches to the regulation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and the work to harmonize them is ongoing. Maryland SB 158 proposes to establish maximums of 100 parts per trillion for the presence of PFAS in mosquito control pesticides and potentially in other pesticides as well, including pesticides used in animal feed. We have written to the Maryland Department of Agriculture to express our displeasure with this bill and will stay alert to any new activity in the legislature. So far, the bill is sitting quietly and we hope it stays that way.
Through South Carolina HB 3266, the South Carolina Legislature is once again proposing to impose a fee of $2 a ton on horse feed and custom equine blends to fund an equine promotion board. We successfully blocked similar legislation in 2021. The funds potentially collected would be used for research, education and promotion of the equine industry. While we certainly have no qualms with the purpose of this bill, the animal food industry should not bear the financial burden. The South Carolina Department of Agriculture is not in favor of the bill, and we are prepared to work with local stakeholders to oppose the measure.
A small group of legislators are promoting Illinois HB 1290 in an effort to amend the Illinois Commercial Feed Act to state that pet food is misbranded if the label fails to disclose whether the pet food contains a major food allergen, defined as milk, eggs, fish, crustaceans, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, soybeans and food ingredients that contain a protein derived from those foods. We are working with the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois to push back on this bill as animal food is specifically exempt from the federal Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004.
And it just wouldn’t feel like “busy season” if we weren’t opposing pet food fee increases in Maryland. HB 365 proposes to link the fee amount to the inflation index from 2013 and expand the use of the funds collected beyond grants to cover low spay and neutering to include other pet wellness services and transportation of pets to clinics. Earlier this month, we testified in opposition to this bill and are prepared to be equally active in the Maryland Senate, where we hope to find an audience receptive to our opposition to the fee increase and service expansion. We have staved off the proposed increases since 2020; wish us luck as we continue our work this year!
The busy season keeps us hopping, reviewing many legislative proposals impacting the animal food industry. Thank you to our members and regional associations as you help us respond to the always industrious legislators.