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Tester, Walsh protect Montana’s brewers, distillers, and ranchers

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Montana Sens. Jon Tester and John Walsh scored a win the last week of September for Montana brewers, distillers and ranchers, helping convince the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to drop a proposal that would have hurt the bottom lines of these small businesses.

In a letter to the FDA earlier this year, Tester and Walsh demanded the agency drop its proposed requirement for ranchers, brewers and distillers to comply with new regulations if spent grain – a brewing and distilling byproduct – was made available for animal feed.

“Ranchers’ use of spent grains is a long-standing practice that benefits Montana communities and businesses,” Tester said. “I’m glad to see the Administration listened to Montanans and backed off its proposal.” Senator Walsh echoed that sentiment.

“Montana’s ranchers, brewers, and distillers are maximizing our made-in-Montana grain to benefit our local economies,” Walsh said. “Cutting this proposed regulation was a common-sense step in preserving this partnership.”

Montana’s breweries are successful because of their strong bond with local producers who supply the highest quality ingredients, according to Max Pigman, owner of Helena’s Lewis and Clark Brewery and a member of the Montana Brewers Association. “This decision will strengthen our relationship with farmers and ranchers and help us continue to produce award-winning brews,” Pigman said.

During brewing and distilling processes, the grain nutrients left over as byproduct are often sold to ranchers to feed their livestock. The updated proposal clarifies that the brewing and distilling process that creates the animal feed already complies with FDA food safety requirements.

Tester and Walsh are both members of the Senate Small Brewers Caucus.

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