FDA proposed rule could raise beer prices

Roughtail Brewing Company

The price of beer could be on the rise across the country because of proposed FDA regulations. Local brewers say the ripple effect could hurt the entire U.S. economy.The FDA's proposal is part of the Food Safety and Modernization Act, an effort to prevent food safety problems before they happen. But brewers say the FDA is creating a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.Roughtail Brewing Company in Oklahoma City just celebrated its one year anniversary in business. Co-owner Tony Tielle was thrilled when he found a way to give back to the community that supports him. He donates what's called "spent grain" to a local farmer."We have a lot of crushed, wet grain that's leftover that's no longer useful for making beer. However, it still has a lot of nutritional value," said Tielle.The relationship between brewers and farmers has been going on for centuries. Cows love the wet protein and fiber rich grains and farmers get it at little or no cost."It really helps him extend his food and water budget so that he can make a living and we don't have to send all that to the landfill or pay to dispose of it," Tielle said about the farmer he works with.But the new FDA proposal could make donating spent grain more difficult or even impossible. Tielle said the law would require all brewers to dry the grain, test it, and package it before sending it to the farmers."What it means is it would cost way more money than any small, independent brewer could ever afford to spend on equipment for that purpose."Tielle said he would be forced to throw all that nutritious grain in a landfill. Across the country hundreds of other breweries would be forced to do the same thing."You have to figure if you suddenly take millions and millions of pounds of free or very, very inexpensive livestock feed out of the equation, how that is going to impact small, local, independent ranchers and farmers," said Tielle.The FDA released this statement about the brewers concerns, "We are working to develop regulations that are responsive to the concerns expressed, practical for businesses, and that also help ensure that food for animals is safe and will not cause injury to animals or humans.""You guys are trying to create a solution to a problem that never existed, and thereby are creating a much bigger problem," said Tielle.Tielle says brewers who choose to buy the packaging equipment will probably have to raise their prices. He and other brewers across the county are sending letters to members of congress and the FDA in hopes of changing the proposed rule during a revision period this summer.