Cattle Ranchers Could Face Another Hurdle For Feed

Cattle ranchers can't seem to get a break.

First, they are dealing with feed prices that are three times what they have paid in previous years, because of the drought.

Now, they may have to spend even more, thanks to the Food and Drug Administration.

It wants to change how ranchers obtain feed, from breweries.

That's right, breweries.

For years, cattle ranchers and breweries like Sequoia Brewery of Fresno, have shared the cost for grain.

The brewery uses the grain to make its beer.

The grain is soaked in hot water during the brewing process; the runoff becomes beer.

Instead of throwing away the grain, the rancher picks it up and feeds it to the cattle.

The feed is only supplemental, but some call it a win-win.

"He won't be able to feed his cows without us," says Andrew Ford, the Head Brewer at Sequoia Brewery. "He'll come pick it up for free from us, so we don't have to pay a disposal."

The grains are still moist, and even provide animals some hydration.

But, the F.D.A. wants to change arrangements like this.

It wants brewers to dry out the grains, and package them, before passing them onto ranchers.

It wants to prevent contamination in the food supply.

This would require time, and labor, that's expensive.

"I don't see a need for the whole drying process. Cows have four stomachs, they can eat a lot that we can't," says Ford.

Ford add that the change would likely result in a loss for Sequoia, too.

It would be forced to pay someone to haul the used grain to a landfill-and for the landfill space.

Monday was the last day the F.D.A. was taking public comment, before issuing a decision.