Sen. Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) has amassed the most liberal voting record in the U.S. Senate, according to National Journal. Yet, when it comes to Washington regulators, even he is willing to speak out against the Obama administration.

“Sometimes Washington does things that make the rest of America scratch their heads in wonderment and say, ‘What the heck are they doing down there?’ ” Schumer said Friday at a news conference in Utica, N.Y., home to the F.X. Matt Brewing Co.

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Breweries across America are speaking out against a proposed Food and Drug Administration rule that would regulate “spent grain,” a byproduct that many breweries, including Schumer’s constituents in Utica, recycle for animal feed.

Under the Food Safety Modernization Act, a sweeping law signed by President Obama in 2011, the FDA seeks to regulate spent grain because it could be unhealthy for animals.

Schumer said that’s nonsense. He has told the FDA it shouldn’t mess with something that isn’t broken and has promised to introduce legislation to repeal the rule if it takes effect.

“Not only would these rules be wasteful, they’d drive up cost to brewers and farmers, a double whammy on the upstate economy,” Schumer said last week, WKTV reported. “The brewing industry says that compliance with the proposed rule would cost brewers in America $50 million and be a burden on small brewers who produce less than 1,000 barrels a year.”

One additional consequence: Instead of recycling the spent grain to local farmers, brewers would send it to landfills.

“If this brewery is going to send 19 million pounds of grain to landfills, just imagine what Anheuser-Busch is going to do. Each and every day, Anheuser-Busch brews twice as much beer as we brew all year long,” said Nick Matt, chairman and CEO of F.X. Matt Brewing Co., makers of Saranac and Utica Club.

The Heritage Foundation’s Daren Bakst, a research fellow in agricultural policy, said Schumer has pinpointed a major problem with how the FDA implements the law.

“The Food Safety Modernization Act is supposed to be a law that is risk-based,” Bakst said. “Instead, the FDA is trying to use the law to regulate in areas that have little to no risk. Senator Schumer is expressing proper concern about spent grain from breweries. I would hope that he and other legislators would also take the lead to ensure that FDA regulates only real risks.”

An FDA spokeswoman told the Utica Observer-Dispatch that the rule is meant to prevent food-borne illnesses.

This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.