RENO, NV - The FDA is proposing a rule that would require brewers to take that left over grain from the brewing process, dry it out, and package it up before handing it off to ranchers. The feds say its necessary to stop the spread of food-borne illnesses like E-coli and salmonella, but farmers and ranchers say they are basically trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist.
All brewing starts with grain. It is steeped in hot water to extract sugars, which are later fermented into beer. At Great Basin's Taps and Tanks facility, they go through thousands of pounds of grain each week.
"We rinse the sugars we need out of it and we have left over some very nutritious things left over," said Tom Young, Owner of Great Basin Brewing Company.
So instead of throwing that spent grain out, most brewers load it up and give it away free to a farm.
Once there, cows and other livestock just cant get enough.
"It works good for the cattle. There is no harm in the cattle or the use of the cattle afterwards," said Alan Mendes, rancher from the Winnemucca Ranch area.
But the FDA disagrees. They want brewers to dry out the grains and package them up to prevent the spread of bacteria. Currently, the grains basically go out of the kettle and straight to the farm.
"We're making an issue out of something that is not an issue at all," said Tom Young.
He adds, bacteria has never been a problem and the extra process would cost more than it's worth.
"This is going to basically ruin their ability to get some food at a very reasonable cost," said Young.
"I don't think I would be able to afford to feed it if they did dry it, because of the cost of drying and the hassle," said Mendes.
So all that good grain would end up in a landfill. Another added cost for the brewer and no free feed for ranchers.
"I hope and trust that our leaders in Washington that will come up with some ideas that actually will allow us to continue this practice," said Young.
This new rule is part of the Food Safety Modernization Act and it has caused backlash all across the nation. People everywhere telling the FDA this isn't a step forward, but a step back. Luckily it is not set in stone yet the agency is considering all options right now and they'll make a final decision later this year.