Goodbye “Happy Hour” ?

Photo Credit: Image by Melanie Lehnen

Photo Credit: Image by Melanie Lehnen

WASHINGTON, DC- Who could ever imagine that those weekly beers with friends after work could intersect with agriculture? Well apparently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found a link, proposing a regulation that could ban the practice of “happy hour.”

Every time you as a consumer enjoy weekly drinks with friends, you are fueling the practice fondly referred to as “happy hour” in the agricultural industry. Whatever leftover grains breweries have, that is what they give to farmers all over the country. This practice that is more than a century old provides breweries and distillers with a way to dispose of leftover grain in a more cost-effective way instead of spending massive amounts to get rid of it; and, the cattle that benefit from these grains (wet grains specifically) are said to enjoy them. Yet, keeping the directive laid down by President Obama’s 2011 food safety reform law, the FDA proposes this regulation in order to increase the safety of animal feed and pet food. However, what seems as a good idea does not go unopposed in Congress.

13 U.S. senators led by Susan Cain (R-MA) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) are opposing the regulation, labeling it as a means to burden the breweries and distillers. Senators such as Cain and Cardin who oppose said ban come from states whose local economy is driven by breweries and distilleries. Amy monetary increase in the way that their state’s breweries and distilleries have to dispose of their leftover wet grain will have ramifications for their state’s economy, with the FDA’s ban looking to cause an increase of $43 million for breweries. But, these brewers will not be the only ones affected.

Well-known brands such as Anheuser-Busch would incur costs of $11 million to dispose of that waste and $1 million to train employees to test for such pathogens. Even from a non-monetary perspective, opposition comes as breweries argue that there is no reason for the FDA to introduce such a regulation as there is not precedent for it.

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