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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: 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.

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