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Ethanol Plants Fear New FDA Rules

The FDA is looking to change the way distiller's grain is used as feed.
Jackson, NE (ABC9 News)-  There's a symbiotic relationship in the Midwest between ethanol plants and livestock producers. plants like Siouxland Ethanol, need to get rid of their extra grain once the starch has been removed, and farmers like to use the corn as feed.

"We end up with what's called a distillers grain, which is all the particles of the corn except for starch. That's a good protein source for animals, it's good feed stuff for animals. So we sell that to all our area livestock producers including cattle feeders and swine, poultry,” said CEO of Siouxland Ethanol Chuck Hofland.

But newly proposed FDA regulations may change the relationship. The FDA is concerned about possible contamination that could occur. So, they want to implement things like a written food safety plan and monitoring of the grain, to prevent any hazards.

Some of the potential risks, Chuck says, aren't as likely as they may seem. For example, one proposed rule calls into question the use of pay loaders, and their potential to have an oil leak that might contaminate grain.

"They may make it to a point where it's inaccessible or uneconomical for us to sell those to cattle feeders or livestock feeders just based on what we'll have to handle for security reasons,” he said.

And if the rules were implemented, that could hurt your wallet as well.

"If there's going to be a lot of additional costs to be able to handle the product, the only way we could do that is to pass that on to producers, which likely will end up with higher food costs."

The FDA says they did take into account comments and concerns and are preparing potential regulations with revised language for this summer. Then they'll be open to more comments from folks like Chuck.

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