FDA rules make it nearly impossible for beer makers to give their grain to farmers for feed


Joe sez, "There's a new FDA rule that will make it nearly make it financially impossible for small craft brewers to give their grain away to farmers for animal feed. I work for a small brewery and all of us there are very upset about this and the general disregard for sustainability. At the end if the article linked there's direct FDA links that cover their proposal."

Leftover brewing grains have been fed to livestock since the dawn of agriculture, so this is a pretty radical shift. The proposed new requirements for animal feed handling stipulate that the feed has to be dried, analyzed and packaged before being donated to farmers (the spent grains are generally given away at the end of the brewing process), at substantial expense.

It's clear that food safety is important, but I'm not convinced that the stringency of this rule is commensurate with the risk.

Brandon Mazer is legal counsel for Maine’s largest brewer, Shipyard, which produces 400-600 tons of spent grain per week during its peak production seasons. Those grains are dumped onto a truck trailer and go to farms as feed.

“It’s a very big umbrella, and we got sucked under it,” Mazer said of the proposed FDA rule change. He said that no brewers in Maine, and few in the country, are equipped with the machinery, personnel or money to meet the requirements outlined by the FDA.

The Brewers Association, Beer Institute, American Malting Barley Association and other brewing organizations have voiced strong opposition to the new restrictions, calling for an exemption for brewers.

The Beer Institute says that in 2012 alone, U.S. brewers produced about 2.7 million tons of spent grain.

The FDA has extended the public comment period on this set of rules until March 31, and brewers and farmers that work with them say they are watching closely.

New FDA rules may cut long-standing ties between beer makers, farmers [Nick McCrea/Bangor Daily News] (Thanks, Joe!)

(Image: The Mash, Fred Benenson, CC-BY)

Notable Replies

  1. I used to work in a bakery that baked the bread for a busy sandwich shop. They had us delivery their bread with most of the inside of the loaf torn out (the best part IMO). We'd end up with 50 pounds of fully cooked, safe to eat bread that we'd have to throw away because the health inspector wouldn't let us GIVE IT AWAY TO THE LOCAL FARMERS FOR THEIR PIG FEED. And then, how does this affect bakers who are using spent grains in their commercial baking?

    Logic and reason are not the strongpoints of the FDA.

  2. If you read in the FAQ at the bottom, they specifically address that distiller's grains going to farms would be regulated under the new rule. But in all the other parts, they cited no incidents where spent grains going to farms was a problem. They talked about an incident of salmonella in old ice cream transported to a farm, but not grains.

    So, this is the FDA not really thinking through the ramifications of their actions. They want a blanket new rule, to address a real problem. But that real problem is an isolated problem. If it passes, this rule will get applied to all manner of things the rule has no business messing with. It'll interject the FDA into all kinds of small farming practices where farmers get slop from nearby schools and restaurants, where it's mostly OK with probably only a few bad incidents over the years.

    Typical America. More rules. More red tape. More bullshit. Make it hard for the small guys.

  3. I take it you haven't lived elsewhere? Because that's typical of pretty much every country with a government.

  4. Bart says:

    Am I correct in guessing that the supporters for such a change are large scale feed producers who are looking to stifle competition?

  5. What I find curious about this, should it be enacted, is that the animals can be packed into feed lots standing in their own excrement but we couldn't feed them spent grains.

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