Walden: FDA rule hurts brewers, ranchers

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Walden-gregBy Oregon Congressman Greg Walden

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) has written to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expressing concern about a proposed rule that could harm the craft brewing and livestock industries in Oregon. The rule proposes to tightly regulate brewers’ “spent grains,” a byproduct of the beer-making process. It has long been common in the industry for brewers to sell or give the spent grains to ranchers for use as animal feed.

“The FDA’s recent rule proposes to regulate spent brewers grains as animal food, and brewers as feed manufacturers. The result of this could be a disaster for jobs and tourism in southern, central, and eastern Oregon. I urge you to reassess this one-size-fits-all proposed rule and work directly with members of the craft brewing and livestock industries so that food safety can be ensured, without putting these industries out of business,” Walden wrote to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

The text of Walden’s letter is below. For a signed copy of the letter, please click here.

Oregon brewers have been concerned about the proposed regulation. “The relationship between farmer and brewer has existed for millennia. I am not aware of a single incident in that time of food borne illness for either animal or human. This ruling could do severe harm to both brewers and farmers as well as fill our landfills with what would otherwise be productive animal feed. Thankfully there are leaders in Congress like Greg Walden who are lending sanity to this situation,” said Gary Fish, founder and CEO of Deschutes Brewery in Bend.

Walden helped found the U.S. House Small Brewers Caucus in 2007. According to the Oregon Brewers Guild, Oregon beer industries employ 6,400 full and part-time employees—an increase of 900 jobs from 2011. There are over a dozen breweries in Central Oregon, and four within the city limits of Hood River alone. The livestock industry in Oregon has been around for generations, and Oregon’s ranchers bring over $650 million into Oregon’s economy, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture.