Montana Senators Tester and Walsh Issue Letter on FDA Spent Grain Rules

Comments of concern continue to pour in over the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s proposed rules for handling spent grain.  Numerous lawmakers are now taking up the cause, including Montanan Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh who issued a joint letter this afternoon.

The brewing industry has long had a symbiotic relationship with livestock producers, providing the spent grains for use as livestock feed rather than sending tons of additional waste to landfills. Spent grain is malted barley (and other grains) after the brewers have extracted the sugars to produce beer in a process called “mashing.”

The FDA’s proposed rule, created to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, would classify brewers as animal feed manufacturers, heaping a significant layer of new regulation on this very common practice.

On Monday, Maine Senators Susan Collins and Angus King issued a letter strongly urging the FDA to consider the significant economic effect from a rule that may effectively end the practice of donating and selling spent grains for livestock feed.  Eleven other Senators signed on to the letter in a bipartisan show of support.

Also on Monday, Colorado Senator Mark Udall issued a letter asking the FDA to “swiftly complete a ‘risk assessment’ of the use of spent grain for livestock feed before moving forward with the rule.    “Perhaps most relevantly, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has decades worth of data that demonstrates the history of spent brewers grain used as animal food,” wrote Senator Udall. “This information does not reveal to my knowledge any evidence that dedicating spent brewers grains for agricultural use has ever compromised food safety to animals or humans.”

Today, Montana Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh issued a letter to Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., the Commissioner of the FDA, urging the agency to “reconsider classifying small brewers as ‘animal feed manufacturers.'”

“Montanans have told us that this proposed rule would likely end the relationship small brewers have built with producers, as the cost of compliance with the proposed rule would likely make such arrangements ineffective,” the Senators wrote. “We urge you to continue to work on this proposed rule to ensure the final version both protects our food supply while taking into account the positive relationship brewers and producers have carved out.”

Here is the entire letter:

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