Matt Ward, B+LNZ General Manager North Island, says according to the Ministry for Primary Industries, hemp or hemp products used as animal feed are regulated under the ACVM Act 1997 and are classed as agricultural compounds.
It is an offence to use any ACVM that is not authorized and there are no hemp products authorized for use in livestock in New Zealand.
He says while the area of hemp grown in NZ is very small and hemp has very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the psychoactive substance found in cannabis plants – any trace of THC could result in lines of export meat being rejected.
Even running stock onto harvested hemp crops may result in traces of THC being found in meat which could put New Zealand’s red meat exports at risk.
Matt says given the poor feed quality of hemp stalk, it is unlikely that it would be used for grazing lambs, but farmers might be tempted to run cull ewes onto crop residue before sending them off for processing, particularly given feed shortages and lack of killing space.
“It would be very easy for farmers to unwittingly run old ewes or mature cattle onto hemp stubble without thinking of the remote, but potentially devastating chance of THC tainting the meat.”
While crop stubble is often very valuable at this time of year for stock at or above optimum body condition, hemp should be avoided and shut off from all livestock.