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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: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Monday April 21 2014, @12:53PM

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 21 2014, @12:53PM (#33930)

    I've homebrewed beer. There is quite a bit of vegetable-like waste. We toss it in the nearest compost pile, no problem. Of course there is a substantial difference in scale between adding another 1% mass to an existing hot balanced compost pile, vs millions of pounds of nothing but grain.

    The problem with a centrally controlled economy like ours is incompetent central control. A lot of transfer related problems can be avoided by vertically integrating the livestock raising company with the brewery to make one legal entity. Forcing breweries and industrial livestock farms to be owned by the same company is stupid and expensive, yet seemingly inevitable.

    Likely this will be the death of commercial microbrews. Wonder how much the big brewers had to pay to get this enacted.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21 2014, @01:35PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21 2014, @01:35PM (#33944)

    How is this killing microbreweries if right now they're giving away this stuff for free? Surely, throwing this nicely biodegradable stuff away, while not completely free, can't be that expensive.
    I bet small farmers will be hit far harder.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Monday April 21 2014, @02:37PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 21 2014, @02:37PM (#33985)

      Ah that's a good question. We're not talking about ratios of waste to product like a packet of Kool Aid vs 2 quarts, from memory and estimation the grains bag and all that is maybe 5% of the total mass/volume of the final product. WAY outside the range of "just toss a trash bag full into the dumpster", unless you're talking 5 gallon homebrewer size. Its an uncomfortable situation to be in, too much waste to be just a boring typical garbage collection, but not enough waste to develop an entire vertical industry around the waste stream. Logistically it'll be the little brother of the product distribution system.

      So the microbrews will get to pay to landfill, which can be kinda expensive, but the megabrewers on an economy of scale business will either have cheaper disposal rates (like multiple rail hopper carloads or unit trains?) or will be able to afford the cost of paperwork compliance when distributed across 10K tank cars full.

  • (Score: 1) by Buck Feta on Monday April 21 2014, @02:52PM

    by Buck Feta (958) on Monday April 21 2014, @02:52PM (#33993) Journal

    > Forcing breweries and industrial livestock farms to be owned by the same company is... seemingly inevitable.

    That's what you get from this?

    I see marginally higher beer and steak prices, and while this is a great national tragedy, I doubt very much it will lead to the conglomeration of two entirely different industries, with thousands of participants each.

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