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Colorado brewers mad about proposed new grain law

Colorado is a state with so many assets, other states are jealous. Skiing, tourism, national parks, even legal pot boutiques -- and of course, beer. Colorado has a reputation for taking the art of beer crafting very seriously, as well as being a hub of green and sustainable business. So when Colorado brewers learned of the Food and Drug Administration's proposed new restrictions on the use of spent brewing grain, things came to a head.

Many Colorado breweries use spent grains from the brewing process to make a healthy and protein-rich food supplement for livestock. The FDA is proposing that the disposal of spent grains be regulated to keep up with the growing modernizations in food safety practices. The FDA's statement claims that more complex (and costly) processing of this by-product would protect animals and humans from foodborne illnesses.

The new regulations would force brewers to purchase extra equipment, since they would be required to dry out the mash and package it before selling it as feed. Small craft and microbreweries are likely to be among the most seriously impacted by these proposed new regulations, but some larger local brewers may be affected strongly as well.

The Beer Institute claims that this regulation is unnecessary, and that no health incidents have ever been linked to the use of spent grain. They also argue that the FDA's proposal threatens a traditional, environmentally friendly practice that brewers have successfully used for centuries. They are working with members of Congress, along with regulators, agriculture and dairy experts, and other specialists to argue the scientific and economic advantages of repurposing spent grain. They also estimate that each brewery may have to cough up over $13 million in additional costs to support these changes.

A spokesperson for New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins claims these proposed changes would be cost-prohibitive. He comments that many brewers would be unable to absorb the new infrastructure and machinery cost. One representative from a cattle farm mentioned that much of it would end up in landfills.

While the beer industry clashes with the FDA about these proposed changes, many brewers are seeking legal counsel to learn more about their rights, the implications of these proposed changes, and what they can do to protect their livelihood. In any Fort Collins business dispute, a business attorney can help provide guidance and advocacy at sensitive business junctures.

Source:  7 News Denver, "Proposed FDA rules could cost beer brewers millions" Russell Haythorn, Apr. 06, 2014

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