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Idaho backtracks on commercial feed regulation

Potato processors exempt from registration process

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BOISE — The Idaho Department of Agriculture has decided to exempt potato processors from a commercial animal feed rule after J.R. Simplot Co. and others asked for the change.

The Idaho Business Review reports that state officials recently announced that all waste byproducts that do not require further processing are exempt from the rule.

The rule involved a registration process and a label with nutritional information for the feed, plus a $40 fee. Potato processors sell leftovers such as peels to intermediaries who then sell it as cheap feed for cattle.

Lloyd Knight of the Agriculture Department said the agency would then spot-check feed in the marketplace to make sure companies "are living up to the guarantees that they make on the package."

But Alan L. Prouty of Simplot in a letter to state officials said leftovers such as peels vary in proteins, fiber and fat.

"The variation in food processing production waste would make the requirements associated with registration (such as labeling) very problematic," Prouty stated.

McCain Foods USA, which has a potato processing plant in Burley, was also against the rule. Ian S. Mitchell, director of government relations for the company, wrote to state officials that the rule could force processors to send potato leftovers to landfills.

"We are fearful that the revised rule will have the unintended consequences of driving costs up for either the potato process industry or the cattle industry, and put jobs at risk," Mitchell wrote.

Knight said a reason for changing the rule to begin with was to get ahead of possible federal regulation. The Food Safety Modernization Act could require processors to follow the same rule the state agency reversed.

But Knight said complying with the state rule was difficult for companies who weren't certain federal regulation would happen.

"The folks in the industry are right to say that it's hard to plan for something that isn't in front of us yet," Knight said.