BEND, Ore. - "In this case, there's no safety and food supply issue at all at hand," Rep. Greg Walden, R-Bend, said Monday in Bend. "Meanwhile, you're going to cause a huge cost burden on the brewers."
Walden met with Central Oregon brewers about proposed Food and Drug Administration rules on spent grains from breweries that could send beer and meat prices rising dramatically.
It has been common practice for brewers to give their spent grains to ranchers, who use it as animal feed. Now the FDA is proposing to put an end to that.
The agency hopes that the regulation would help prevent food-borne illness in both animals and people.
Meeting with the congressman at Deschutes Brewery in Bend, they pointed out that no food-borne illness has ever been reported from cattle fed with spent grains.
"So this is a case where the FDA's rule, proposed rule, really misses the mark and should be fully withdrawn," Walden said. "Because there's never been a case we're aware of where spent grains of a brewery fed to cattle caused any kind of food-borne illness."
Central Oregon brewers and ranchers are worried about a big increase in costs.
Instead of just giving the spent grains to ranchers, breweries would have to dispose of it in landfills, which is a lot more costly -- a cost that would trickle down to the consumer.
"If this were to go through it would have a substantial impact," said Deschutes Brewery President and founder Gary Fish. "Not just on beer prices, because it would cost us more to process the grain before selling to the farmer. That would affect feed prices to the farmer -- therefore it would affect beef pricing to the consumer."
"I'd say it's catastrophic," said Bob Borlen of Borlen Cattle Co. "It's serious. It would eliminate this type of industry,"
Walden told NewsChannel 21, he is hopeful the FDA will revise the regulation. He said both in the Senate and the House, Democrats and Republicans are equally opposing the regulation and are working together to overrule it.