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Beer-makers spared from higher livestock feed costs

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  The Food-and-Drug Administration says it will change its proposed new livestock feeding rules, so beer-makers won't have to worry about higher grain costs. The F-D-A is upgrading its food safety laws to prevent out-breaks of food-borne illnesses. However, beer companies say the rules could put a crimp into the sales of leftover grain from the brewing process to Wisconsin dairy farmers for livestock feed.

Brewers say they'd have to choose between sending the grain to landfills -- or paying an average of almost $14-million for new grain testing equipment and audits. F-D-A compliance official Dan McChesney says livestock feed is generally safe -- and the F-D-A doesn't know of any problems with the grain from breweries.

In Wisconsin, brewers ranging from Miller-Coors to the New Glarus brewery either donate or sell spent grain to farmers. John Kappelman of Port Washington says it's a high-quality grain which provides an important source of protein to dairy cows. Kappelman, who owns a feed business, says selling the grain to farmers is a lot more environmentally-friendly than throwing it out. Miller-Coors says it's been selling grain to hundreds of farms since the late 1800's -- and the grain goes directly from the brewing kettle to the tanks which ship it to farms.