Johanns Writes FDA on Proposed Livestock Feed Rule

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today wrote Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg urging FDA to exempt raw agricultural commodities, distillers grain and other byproducts from a promised revision of a proposed rule dealing with livestock feed.  As first proposed, the rule would add new requirements to producers of distillers grains – including brewers and ethanol plants – and increase the cost for livestock producers who use these byproducts.
“As currently drafted, these new requirements would be illogical and could bring a safe, mutually-beneficial system to a screeching halt,” Johanns said. “The proposal would increase costs and create massive amounts of landfill waste – without any improvements to food safety. I’m glad FDA has agreed to revisit this rule and I will continue to advocate for food safety regulations based on sound science and common sense.”
The full text of Johanns’ letter is below:
April 15, 2014
The Honorable Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.
Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993
Dear Commissioner Hamburg:
I urge you to issue exemptions for food and distiller byproducts and agricultural commodities intended for further processing in the Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals proposed rule. 
I appreciate that you have committed to publish revisions to your proposed rule with a new comment period and I believe this is an appropriate step.  I urge you to make significant changes from the proposed rule in light of the serious flaws that have been identified, and specifically exempt distillers grains, as well as food byproducts and raw agricultural commodities that will be further processed into animal feed.  
When Congress passed the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2010, with my support, the intent was to create a feasible, science-based process to protect consumers against reasonably foreseeable hazards.  Instead, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a rigid framework that would substantially increase costs for industry participants with little, if any, expected benefit. 
In particular, I am concerned about FDA regulation of byproducts used in animal food.  Whether the byproducts are from ethanol plants, breweries, or human food manufacturers, these are an important part of the supply chain for animal food and help companies reduce waste and create additional value.  However, the proposed rule included a number of new requirements that would have made the distribution of byproducts cost-prohibitive.  That would endanger an economical food source, instead threatening to clog our landfills with nutritious feedstuffs.  This in turn would raise production costs for our livestock producers, making them less competitive in the global economy. 
Food safety is a concern for all of us, but measured regulatory discretion is needed here.  When FDA proposes a new animal food rule with a new comment period, I urge you to exempt raw agricultural commodities and these byproducts, which reach the animal food supply through a unique set of circumstances that does not warrant their inclusion in this rule.  
Mike Johanns
United States Senator