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posted by janrinok on Monday April 21 2014, @12:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the but-who-will-make-a-profit? dept.

One gallon of beer yields on average about a pound of spent grain, the malted barley husks leftover after mashing and the sweet liquid is drained. It's a food grade product and for years, smaller craft brewers have donated or sold on the cheap their spent grain to farmers to feed cows and other livestock. Now The Oregonian reports that the FDA, charged with tightening the country's food safety network, has proposed a rule that strikes financial fear into the hearts of brewers and distillers nationwide which could cost the industry millions and increase the price of beer and spirits. The proposal would classify companies that distribute spent grain to farms as animal feed manufacturers, possibly forcing them to dry and package the material before distribution. The equipment and set up to do that would cost about $13 million per facility, says Scott Mennen, vice president of brewery operations at Widmer. "That would be cost prohibitive," Mennen said. "Most brewers would have to put this material in a landfill."

The FDA rule would also require brewers and distillers to keep extensive records to allow for traceability in the event of a problem, and to adopt new safety procedures, for example by storing and shipping spent grain in closed sanitized containers. "Beer prices would go up for everybody to cover the cost of the equipment and installation," says James Emmerson, executive brewmaster of Full Sail Brewing Co. The proposal has sparked an outpouring from opponents, with hundreds of comments pouring into the FDA. "This is the kind of stuff that makes government look bad," says Rep. Peter DeFazio. "It would mark a huge setback adding tons of waste to our landfills."

 
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  • (Score: 0, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21 2014, @12:15PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21 2014, @12:15PM (#33917)

    Stupidity like this makes it hard to try to read what such piece of news is supposedly actually about. If you can't sell your shit as feed, you could e.g. shove it into a fermentor and get biogas out of it for example. Whether this is a good idea vs. using it as feed is another question. But we need a reasonable discussion and weighing different options out instead of stupid ultimatums and false dichotomies.

    So much drama, so very USA...

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by FatPhil on Monday April 21 2014, @12:54PM

    by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Monday April 21 2014, @12:54PM (#33932) Homepage
    "shove it into a fermentor" eh?

    The problem with spent grain, as the name indicates, is that the majority of saccharides, in the form of fermentable sugars, have been removed - and shoved in a fermentor - and therefore, considering its bulk, this byeproduct a relatively poor input for biogas production.

    There are exceptions - there's a biogas production mechanism called "feeding it to a cow", and that works quite well, and has meat or milk as rather tasty byeproducts. The problem is that the FDA wants to regulate against doing that unless you jump through expensive hoops.

    However, as a selfish European, I can't hide the fact that things which are to the detriment of the US are usually good news for our European counterparts. So if this bill passes, hopefully it means there will be hop gluts, and nice cheap prices over here!
    --
    I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
    • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Monday April 21 2014, @03:00PM

      by Nerdfest (80) on Monday April 21 2014, @03:00PM (#33998)

      The really fun part is that it's my understanding that spent grains are given or sold very cheaply to farms in Europe, and have been for at least many hundreds of years. It's one of the best feeds available.

      • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday April 21 2014, @10:23PM

        by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Monday April 21 2014, @10:23PM (#34180) Homepage
        It's kind of illegal too, alas, in most places. I'm friends with a new local brewer(y), and they say they literally can't give their spent grains away (and aren't willing to risk doing illegal stuff). They could leave it so that it's not protected against theft, that's about all, but daren't even make that well known. (However, our laws are some of the strictest in Europe, it seems.)

        Down south, one of the breweries has a nice little side business - they make biscuits out of the spent grain - very tasty! However, I've only seen them on sale in one cafe, associated with the brewery, so clearly that's only a tiny fraction of their waste.
        --
        I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
        • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Tuesday April 22 2014, @03:31AM

          by Nerdfest (80) on Tuesday April 22 2014, @03:31AM (#34238)

          They should sell it as-is as breakfast cereal. It's quite tasty.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21 2014, @03:10PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21 2014, @03:10PM (#34004)

      http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/02/05/hop-it- [takepart.com] brewer-generates-its-own-power-beer-mash [takepart.com]

      http://thefullpint.com/beer-cast/shorts-brewing-re [thefullpint.com] purposes-high-strength-waste-water-electricity-gen eration/ [thefullpint.com]

      etc

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by tangomargarine on Monday April 21 2014, @02:05PM

    by tangomargarine (667) on Monday April 21 2014, @02:05PM (#33958)

    It sounded like they weren't talking about SELLING the grain, but rather DONATING it.

    So this is a law that will in effect prevent them from donating. Nice.

    --
    "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
    • (Score: 1) by thoughtlover on Tuesday April 22 2014, @09:22PM

      by thoughtlover (3247) on Tuesday April 22 2014, @09:22PM (#34596) Journal

      Yup. I worked at a brewery and we were grateful that we could donate it to a local farm. Otherwise, dumping it would only add an extra cost. The owners were very environmental, so it made more sense to donate it. I also remember many a summer day shoveling spent grain into the farmer's truck. It really smelled good!

  • (Score: 2) by frojack on Monday April 21 2014, @05:52PM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 21 2014, @05:52PM (#34075) Journal

    Whether this is a good idea vs. using it as feed is another question.

    That question is a question for the Department of Agriculture, not the FDA. The FDA is overstepping its bounds here. They are welcome to regulate the beef or milk that comes from these farms but not what goes into the farms.

    They have no authority to regulate the bales of hay and the grass in the pasture, or sacks of grain, or any other animal feed stock.

    This practice has been going on EVERYWHERE in the world since beer was invented. My guess is this gets laughed off the table before it gets a serious hearing.

    --
    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by davester666 on Monday April 21 2014, @07:31PM

    by davester666 (155) on Monday April 21 2014, @07:31PM (#34115)

    Why should beer prices rise because of this? Shouldn't it be the feed price rising instead.

    And this is the usual "I've become used to making extra profit from selling my waste, and now I won't make as much from it."

    You'll notice the articles don't mention how much the breweries make from selling this waste as feed, so you can't actually make a reasonable comparison.

    But this is telling:

    “It’s a premium product,†Rosa said. “I pay virtually nothing. But it’s like putting honey on your cereal. It makes the cows want to eat more and we notice it in their production.â€

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21 2014, @08:39PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21 2014, @08:39PM (#34144)

      The reason the articles don't mention how much breweries make from selling spent grain as feed is because they typically make NOTHING. Do a little research and you'll find that many breweries give it away, and the big ones sell it for just pocket change (i.e. $30 per TON).

      Brewers will be faced with a decision: invest in infrastructure to comply with regulations, and try to get more money for the spent grain as feed, or just pay someone to take it away because that's cheaper. The added overhead on what used to be a mutually beneficial exchange means both industries are affected: beer prices will go up, and cattle feed prices (and thus cattle product prices) will ALSO go up. It's lose-lose for the consumer.

      • (Score: 2) by davester666 on Monday April 21 2014, @08:51PM

        by davester666 (155) on Monday April 21 2014, @08:51PM (#34149)

        If they get so little for the stuff, then it won't significantly cost them to just dump it in the landfill.

        Or, if it's still worthwhile, they could sell the stuff to somebody else, who is willing to invest in the processing equipment and tracking the product and then selling the product to farmers, who will have to pay more.

        And that's the cost of a safer food supply. Because there is ALWAYS an insane outcry after something goes wrong, where somebody sells something that's just a little contaminated hoping that it won't cause any real problems down the line, and it's "why didn't the FDA put a stop to this exemption earlier".

        • (Score: 1) by urza9814 on Monday April 21 2014, @09:31PM

          by urza9814 (3954) on Monday April 21 2014, @09:31PM (#34160) Journal

          If they get so little for the stuff, then it won't significantly cost them to just dump it in the landfill.

          It actually could cost quite a bit. This stuff is produced some places by the TON. That's generally why they give it away to farms for free -- because the farms actually have incentive to haul the crap away, therefore the breweries don't have to pay for disposal.

          It's not quite as simple as just tossing it out on the curb...

  • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Tuesday April 22 2014, @02:53AM

    by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday April 22 2014, @02:53AM (#34230) Homepage

    More like an agency justifying its continued existence and next year's budget by finding yet more long-established practices that somehow are newly in need of regulation.

    This would raise the cost of livestock feed (including pet food) proportionately as well, hence the cost of food at retail will also go up.

  • (Score: 1) by thoughtlover on Tuesday April 22 2014, @09:17PM

    by thoughtlover (3247) on Tuesday April 22 2014, @09:17PM (#34594) Journal

    ...you could e.g. shove it into a fermentor and get biogas out of it for example.

    I believe this is one of many techniques New Belgium employs to claim near 100% energy-efficiency.