Written by: Louise Calderwood | June 22, 2021
This blog is part of our policy priority series.
What do industrial hemp, pet neutering and packaging materials all have in common?
They are all issues being considered by state legislatures and being tracked by the American Feed Industry Association in our efforts to promote harmonization between state laws and regulations, protect against fees paid by the feed industry and not directly tied to regulation, and encourage a fair business climate for our members. As many state legislatures are wrapping up their sessions, the AFIA is reviewing its wins and losses (and in some cases our draws) for the year.
During the 2021 legislative session, we participated in a coalition that successfully defeated an effort in Maryland to increase the fee paid on pet food products to fund a spay-neuter program for pets of low-income citizens. We recognize the merits of the effort, but questioned why it should be funded by companies selling pet food in Maryland? We also successfully defeated a proposal in South Carolina to introduce a voluntary assessment on horse feed to fund an equine promotion board.
Several states are developing proposals to recognize industrial hemp as an ingredient in commercial animal food and pet food, despite the absence of approval of the ingredient through the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) or the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. (See our previous blogs about hemp here.)
For example, a Louisiana measure now recognizes industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity and authorizes its cultivation, processing and transportation for legal commercial feeds and pet products. A California proposal requires manufacturers of dietary supplements and food that include industrial hemp to demonstrate that the ingredient is sourced from a state or country that has an established industrial hemp program. It would also require that processing facilities are inspected or regulated under a food safety program to ensure that the hemp is safe for animal consumption. Montana law does not allow the sale of hemp products before the FDA has approved hemp as an approved additive or defined ingredient in animal food, but it makes no mention of the need to be recognized by AAFCO.
The AFIA collaborated with the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA) in an effort to defeat Vermont legislation modeled on the National Animal Supplement Council’s (NASC) guidelines for supplements for companion animals and horses. The bill is problematic because it extends the NASC guidelines for regulatory purposes beyond their intended focus of companion animals and horses. While we were not able to block the bill, we were successful in reducing the registration fee from a proposed $105 to $35. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture has not revealed how it intends to use the new source of revenue but has stated it will not hire additional staff with the funds raised.
The AFIA also supported NEAFA in an effort to block an increase to Rhode Island’s general fund, fueled by an escalation in the cost for registering animal feeds in the state from $60 to $100 per label. The Rhode Island Division of Agriculture has not indicated the need to expand its staffing or support functions for the feed regulatory programs. Although the session is not yet wrapped up, the increase appears to be headed to the governor’s desk.
West Virginia and Delaware updated their feed laws but the changes will not impact fees in either state. In West Virginia, a few administrative changes will ease the registration process for feed distributors. Delaware updated its feed law for the first time since 1967, bringing it into agreement with modern terms and the AAFCO Unified State Bill.
Twice a year, the AFIA polls state feed regulators to get a pulse on the potential for changes in animal food licensing or registration fees and any other changes to state feed laws or regulations. In January, as state legislatures roll back into business, we start our daily tracking of bills and proposed changes to regulations. We also work closely with state and regional feed and grain associations, state farm bureaus and departments of agriculture to review the proposals and help draft positions. Occasionally, we provide testimony if asked by a local group or if there is no local organization to represent our membership.
The AFIA membership is an essential part of the legislative tracking process, providing insights into the potential for regulatory changes to have an impact on local businesses. Feel free to contact Louise Calderwood or Leah Wilkinson, our state affairs team, with any questions on state legislative or regulatory issues.