Fighting to keep partnership between breweries and farms

By Jillian Marshall

April 22, 2014 Updated Apr 22, 2014 at 7:22 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) A U.S. Representative is calling out the Food and Drug Administration for what he says is yet another example of government overstep.

Republican Congressman Richard Hanna spoke out against the proposed FDA rule which would require breweries to dehydrate byproducts - which are typically sent to farms for animal feed.

Local brewers and farmers joined Hanna at the Water Street Brewing Company Tuesday afternoon.

Hanna said the FDA proposal is flawed, and needs to be turned down.

"It's hard to figure out who or what is driving something like this because it makes no sense at all," Hanna said.

Currently, the Water Street Brewing Company sends its spent grains -- which are the hops, barley, oats, and wheat -- to McRey Farms in Glenn Aubrey.

McRey mixes it into the food for the lambs, cows and pigs.

"It's a value to us and we're a sustainable farm, we believe in not taking, unnecessarily taking it to the landfill. Why not give it to us who can use it and do something good with it," co-owner of McRey Farm Carol McGee said.

Brewers and farmers both said if this rule goes into affect, most of the spent grain would go to the landfill, and would hike up costs for meat and beer.

"It saves us a lot of money a year by not having to landfill a byproduct that could be reused. Here we are on Earth Day and we're talking about a sustainable process," owner of Water St. Brewing Co. Michele Bleichert said.

"It's kind of a full circle thing because at Water St. Brewing they buy some of our meat products that we feed the grain to so it kind of comes full circle," McGee added.

Hanna said the FDA is considering this rule to help monitor the safety of what farm animals are being fed.

"You have to imagine, for the McRey farm, the animals are their livelihood, they are not going to be feeding anything to their animals that would be detrimental to them," Bleichert said.

Currently, Congress is taking public comment on this proposed rule.

Hanna's administration said it hopes the legislation will be squashed soon.