FDA revisits grain proposal affecting brewers

FDA revisits grain proposal affecting brewers

FRUITLAND, MO (KFVS) - If a federal law goes through as written, it could be hard for ranchers to feed their cattle.

The proposed rule is part of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, aimed at preventing outbreaks of food borne illness.

It would regulate the long-standing partnership between brewers and farmers regarding leftover grain.

But brewers say they already comply with food safety rules for humans set forth by the FDA.

When John A. Huber started "Hubrew" nearly 3 years ago, it was a hobby turned business.

So he looked to other, more established breweries for tips on how things work including what to do with leftover grain.

"It was pretty much a standard in the industry that most breweries give it away the bigger breweries actually sell it to farmers," said Hubrew owner and brew master John A. Huber.

But a new proposed FDA regulation would negatively affect that partnership between brewers and farmers.

"Depending on how it went they were actually talking about making us dry the product, bag the product, label the product as a cattle feed or livestock feed. Test the product to see exactly what content is in it," said Huber. "And that would just be crippling to a small operation like ours."

If that proposed regulation passes, Huber said he would probably have to dump the grain in a landfill in an effort to save money and keep the business alive.

In the process of brewing the beer every week they use about 8 bags of grain.

And the grain that's left over after the brewing process is complete fills about 4 bins.

Then they give that to a local farmer for free.

Rick Francis and his wife own Double B Ranch in Perryville.

He says the cows love the grain from "Hubrew" and its cut their feed expenses in half.

"Gives them something other than just grass or hay to eat and therefore also lowers our feed bill which allows us to hopefully pass on some savings to our consumers at the farmers market in Southeast Missouri," said Francis.

But if the regulation is not amended, it's more than just the brewers and farmers who will be feeling the pinch.

Consumers could see higher beef prices in the market and at restaurants.

"It would increase our cost of raising our grass fed beef, our calves, and therefore we would have no choice but to pass it on to the consumers," said Francis. "Both in the St. Louis stores as well as locally.

Brewers and farmers were quick to voice their disagreement with the proposal.

They gained support from federal lawmakers who lobbied the agency to take another look at its proposal.

The FDA plans to release revised rules this summer and will seek comments before issuing a final rule next year.

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