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Trouble brewing for Vt. farmers, breweries? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Trouble brewing for Vt. farmers, breweries?

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WATERBURY, Vt. -

The sound of Hadley Gaylord's pickup serves as a dinner bell for the beef cattle raised on the family farm. Wednesday, lunch consisted of spent grains.

"It must be like candy to them; they just come running," Gaylord said. "We still feed mostly only grass, but this stuff supplements them to the point where they have better body condition throughout the winter."

The spent grains are a byproduct of the brewing process. By giving away 28,000 pounds of the product to the farm every week, the cows get free meals and the Alchemist Brewery in Waterbury avoids paying for disposal.

"It's a symbiotic relationship; it works great for the brewers and it works great for the farmers. That is under threat now," said Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont.

At a news conference held outside the Alchemist, Welch blasted the Food and Drug Administration for a proposed new regulation. The rule would force brewers of all sizes to dry and package the spent grains before selling or even giving them away, upsetting a beer-to-beef cycle that dates back to the founding of the country and increasing costs for everyone involved.

"We've got to stop this from happening," Welch said.

However, the idea already appears to be canned. According to the FDA's website, unlike the Alchemist's beer the next version of the proposal will be severely watered down and allow current practices to continue. The page indicates regulation writers reconsidered in the face an overwhelming negative response to the plan.

"We've got them on the run," Welch said.

"For us it's really refreshing to see such instant democracy happen," said John Kimmich of the Alchemist Brewery.

Brewers and farmers say they're happy the regulatory process may work out in their favor, but won't stop chewing on the issue until the promised language change is officially on the books.

According to brewery associations, cows dispose of 90 percent of the spent grains nationwide. Therefore, they argue the environment and landfills also benefit from the working agreement between brewers and farmers.

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