Cattle Feed Regulation Change Could Affect Ranchers, Brewers - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Cattle Feed Regulation Change Could Affect Ranchers, Brewers

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Some local brewers and ranchers have a working partnership that revolves around cattle feed. But changes could be coming if a proposed regulation by the Food and Drug Administration is adopted.

The animal feed comes from spent barley after it's used to make beer, but brewers and ranchers say an FDA regulation could bring this method to an end. It's part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which requires the grain to be dried and packaged like pet food.

It's intended to make it safer, but those involved say there is no risk involved, and it only adds a burden to brewers and ranchers.

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Cattle at Baker Ranch eat a steady diet of barley, alfalfa and grass. "These animals have a little bit of grain influence in them, makes the meat better in my opinion," says rancher Karl Baker.

But where he gets this grain might surprise you - breweries. The barley is added to tanks of hot water to convert the starches to sugar. The liquid is fermented and turned into beer. And the sugar-free grain left behind is given to local ranchers for protein-rich feed. "It's a bi product that the brewery has that they need to get rid of. It helps me, as a farmer/rancher, supplement my animals. "We go through tons and tons of grain, every year, and it's a shame to just throw it out when it can be used for beneficial use," says Tom Young, Great Basin Brewing Co.

Young says a regulation, requiring brewers to dry and package their spent barley would come with a huge cost. And nearly 600,000 pounds of cattle feed would head to the landfill, instead of local ranches. "That proposal is preposterous, ridiculous, stupid, and sets us back," Young said.

The FDA says the preventive controls are science and risk based that are necessary to protect human and animal health. "They've been feeding brewer's mash to the livestock since they invented beer. When in history have we had any sort of issues that have prompted big regulations like this. It's ridiculous," says Baker.

This type of recycling is something these guys say helps the local food network making both beer and beef. "That cow has to be processed through Wolf Pack Meats because it has to be USDA certified. And then we serve it in the restaurants," says Young.

Baker says without this partnership, he would have to feed his cattle more alfalfa or buy a supplemental feed adding to his operating costs. "Ultimately, what I hope comes out of it is that it stays the same as it is now. Why fix it if it isn't broken?"

The FDA could not give us an interview but say they are aware of these concerns. They're in the process of re-writing the proposal and say that should be done by early summer.

It may or may not include this regulation.

Written by Paul Nelson

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