Brewers, Ranchers Fear FDA Proposal

It's a partnership you probably never knew existed. Now, local beer makers and cattle ranchers hope new FDA rules won't make them end a mutually beneficial relationship.
LUBBOCK, TX -- Lubbock-area beer makers and local cattle ranchers hope proposed new FDA rules won't make them end a mutually beneficial relationship.

When Justin Zimmerman brews a batch of beer at Triple J Chophouse on Buddy Holly Avenue, roughly 3,000 pounds of grain are left behind every month.  But instead of throwing it out, Zimmerman gives it away to a cattle rancher named Kyle Meers. 

"I would hate to see it go away, because I feel like it provides us an opportunity to utilize that ... as a good feed source for the animals," Meers said. "And I think it helps them [local breweries] with their waste."

Meers feeds the spent grain to his small herd of black angus cattle.  They love it, and he loves that he's getting a healthy, protein-rich supplementary feed for free.

This sort of brewer/rancher relationship exists around the world, with longtime partnerships between both small and large breweries and ranches.  But wording in a proposed set of new FDA food safety regulations has the ranchers and brewers worried.  They worry the government will soon require brewers to process and package the grain before they hand it off, something Zimmerman says he and other brewers can't afford to do. 

Zimmerman said the estimated cost would be $50 million nationwide.  He said it would be better to go to the cattle than to a landfill.

The FDA said its proposal has been misunderstood and the language will be altered and re-released this summer.  Zimmerman and Meers hope the re-write will allow them to keep their current partnership.  




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