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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: 3, Interesting) by strattitarius on Monday April 21 2014, @03:01PM

    by strattitarius (3191) on Monday April 21 2014, @03:01PM (#33999) Journal
    Food supply from seed to grain to flour to bread is tracked and traced. Lots, serials, bushels, etc. The FDA wants to add this big of unregulated feed to be tracked. That's find with me. The brewing company had better damn already know where that grain came from, how long it sat in wait, and how much of it was used on that batch. Export that record to the farmer you gave it to and call it done. Once more step in the tracking.

    In fact, even if they are giving it away, they would be tracking it anyways. Manufacturers have to track all waste streams, where they come from and where they go. Regardless if they pay to have it taken off or if someone pays them to take it away.

    This is a fact of life in our modern era of food production.
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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by bucc5062 on Monday April 21 2014, @03:34PM

    by bucc5062 (699) on Monday April 21 2014, @03:34PM (#34015)

    You missed the point where the brewer had to dry and repackage the slurry as well as track it. If it was just about tracking I think they'd be able to comply without much cost added (barcode the tank, the truck record the transaction and be done). What the FDA proposes is that they need to repurpose the whole product. That is the cost sink hole and to do so for no obvious reason.

    There is common sense and nonsense, the FDA choose the latter.

    --
    The more things change, the more they look the same
    • (Score: 2) by clone141166 on Monday April 21 2014, @05:26PM

      by clone141166 (59) on Monday April 21 2014, @05:26PM (#34059)

      The articles themselves are very slanted towards the FDA's proposal being evil and unnecessary. But does anyone have a link to exactly what the FDA is claiming and why?

      Is there actually a legitimate reason for the FDA's concern that simply hasn't been adequately reported? If there really is some basis for them to suspect that it poses a health risk then I would rather deal with more expensive beer than risk it.

      On the other hand if it's just a result of feed-company lobbying as another poster raised then yes it's evil and unnecessary over-regulation. But the articles seem so biased. I wish journalists would at least try to present all of the points of view before sounding the battle horns and declaring everything an abomination forged by the devil.

      • (Score: 2) by sjames on Monday April 21 2014, @06:09PM

        by sjames (2882) on Monday April 21 2014, @06:09PM (#34086) Journal

        I suspect it's more a matter of reality being biased. Being shot in the chest is bad. It's not possible to write a 'non-biased' article about it where we give equal time to the health benefits.

      • (Score: 2) by bucc5062 on Monday April 21 2014, @08:53PM

        by bucc5062 (699) on Monday April 21 2014, @08:53PM (#34150)

        Here ya go [fda.gov]. It reads about as dry as a government proposal can be, but I think the general gist can be understood. Stop doing this so our overlords can make more money.

        I think James stated it well, the reality is biased enough. If there could be one valid and good reason go get a gunshot wound to the chest then please list it, but otherwise, how about we say its a bad idea and drop it. There has not ever been a case where cows where harmed in the use of spent grain, so how is this helping?

        The other factor not so much stated is the supplier relationship with the farmers. I have horses and buy hay from local farmers. If I get a bad set of hay from a farmer, I am not going to buy from them again or they really need to show me that it was a one off. Any farmer worth their salt will know if what they are getting is a good product for their cows and anything the impacts their product (beef/milk) will result in backlash. The best regulator in this case is the farmer and any beer maker worth their hops will know if they piss off the farmers, that will impact their product.

        I am not against regulations, but regulations that are to obvious to help anyone but a choice few fluff their pockets are not valid at all.

        --
        The more things change, the more they look the same
        • (Score: 1) by clone141166 on Tuesday April 22 2014, @06:18AM

          by clone141166 (59) on Tuesday April 22 2014, @06:18AM (#34267)

          Thanks. Yeah the more I read about it, the more it just seems like another piece of over-regulation designed to make it harder for small businesses to compete with larger established ones. Maybe there was some small good intention initially but it seems to have been lost in the many, many feet of red tape.

    • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Tuesday April 22 2014, @03:03AM

      by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday April 22 2014, @03:03AM (#34234) Homepage

      As I say above, more like the FDA chose to justify their continued existence by finding yet another product to regulate. Scaremongering about all the things that *might* go wrong if not regulated is a great way to justify next year's budget.

      Mark my words, if they get away with this, eventually such regulation of mill-waste type livestock-feed ingredients will get all the way down to screenings and grain dust. Today I can buy screenings for an inexpensive pig ration; if it's regulated similarly to this proposal, it'll be landfill fodder instead.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21 2014, @06:48PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21 2014, @06:48PM (#34104)

    Food supply from seed to grain to flour to bread is tracked and traced. Lots, serials, bushels, etc. The FDA wants to add this big of unregulated feed to be tracked. That's find with me. The brewing company had better damn already know where that grain came from, how long it sat in wait, and how much of it was used on that batch. Export that record to the farmer you gave it to and call it done. Once more step in the tracking.

    Hi. I am an ATF basic licence holder. I'm a farmer. I produce the stuff I ferment, and control all aspects of production from rainfall through to bottled sales. I deal with the ATF (in the form of the TTB), I deal with the FDA, I deal with the USDA, and that's just daily. On longer timescales, all sorts of other groups poke their heads in (depending on what I'm doing, the BLM and DoI put in showings, for example, and I get paperwork from the CDC as well).

    On the basis of this real life knowledge, experience and hands-in-the-dirt work, let me make one thing very plain: I spend about a week every month doing paperwork. Not farm work. Not feeding animals or building or repairing fences or pruning trees or planting or harvesting or anything which you might associate with farming - paperwork. Red tape.

    You make it sound so simple. Everything that goes into my bonded winery is already tracked (true) including quantities and applications. Every formula is lab tested, FDA reviewed, and individually approved by not only inputs, but volumes. Got that? I make 5Kl of a formula, and 10Kl of a formula? Two different formulae needing their own, separate and different approvals. This is today, before I even touch on new paperwork.

    I have animals too. They serve meaningful purposes on the farm - brush control, guardian work and so on. They also produce meat, hide, eggs and so on, because I don't like to waste. I don't know if you've noticed, but goats will eat damn near anything green. Trying to accurately account for their diets is an exercise in futility, unless you run a CAFO. (We don't like CAFOs this week, right? Or did that change while I was filing my third set of monthly tax forms?)

    The arrogance of ignorance displayed by people who think that farming, which is a messy and complex industry absolutely packed with weird positive and negative feedback loops, outliers, and unintended consequences, should be even more bureaucratically bound than it already is, is simply staggering.

    Speaking straight from the liver: get off your pretty-boy ass, come down to my farm, and spend six months working alongside me, including the paperwork, then look me in the eye and tell me that the one thing wrong with the brewing and feeding operation is that we need more paperwork. And then I will tell you that you need serious, professional help.

    In fact, even if they are giving it away, they would be tracking it anyways. Manufacturers have to track all waste streams, where they come from and where they go. Regardless if they pay to have it taken off or if someone pays them to take it away.

    This is a fact of life in our modern era of food production.

    No. No, it is not. Not even nearly. Some waste streams are disposed of by opening a spigot and letting it drain away because even if you're dumping it directly into a salmon stream, it's outright beneficial. It's just not commercially useful. Some waste streams need to be taken away by people wearing plastic bunny suits and respirators. Trying to equate manufacturers of silicon chips or even trucks with the biological process of a farm is so deluded as to render everything you say an exercise in wishful thinking.

    Sorry if I sound a little cranky, but the bullshit spewed by people who don't know the first thing about actual, real farming or brewing, or the bureaucratic boondoggles that surround those industries, is so toxic I wouldn't even put it on my fields. Word to the wise: if you live in a city, don't try to regulate the country. You don't know what the hell you're talking about, and you're making it worse.