Water, malt, hops, and yeast. These are the often recited ingredients by breweries throughout the world. While some breweries prefer to use adjuncts, like corn or rice, a vast majority faithfully use these key ingredients. But producing of the world's favorite beers isn't without waste as a bi-product. This often means the brewery is responsible for disposing of the hops and ground up malt. Thankfully ground up (water-soaked) malt is a great source of food for farmers and their livestock.
However a recent proposition from the Food & Drug Administration would almost certainly cease the practice of small to medium breweries sending their 'spent' grain to farmers. Summarizing the proposed update to the Food Safety Modernization Act, farmers will no longer be able to accept grain directly from breweries or distilleries, unless it has been dried and packaged, and has not been touched by "human hands".
FDA appreciates the extensive input it has received and continues to receive on the various proposed rules under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The Agency is committed to providing adequate time to comment on proposed rules while recognizing the need to meet court-ordered deadlines for final rules.
Based on stakeholder requests for additional time to comment on the proposed rule on mitigation strategies to protect food against intentional adulteration, and the accompanying draft qualitative risk assessment, FDA will soon announce a 90-day extension of the comment period for both documents to June 30, 2014. FDA also is extending the comment period on the designation of high-risk foods for tracing until May 22, which provides an additional 45 days for comment. This document requests comment on the proposed methodology for determining which foods are high risk. FDA will announce the extensions in the Federal Register and will issue CFSAN Constituent Updates to inform stakeholders.
On December 19, 2013, FDA announced that it would propose revised rule language for key provisions of the two proposed rules affecting farmers and would publish revised language in early summer 2014. This decision was based on public input that led FDA to believe that significant changes would be needed in key provisions of the proposed rule on produce safety and the proposed rule on preventive controls for human food. Because the proposed rule on current good manufacturing practice and preventive controls for food for animals is a companion rule to the proposed rule on human food, FDA is announcing that it will publish revised language for this proposed rule as well. For that reason, the comment period for the proposed rule on animal food, which ends March 31, 2014, is not being extended.
See FSMA Rules & Guidance for Industry, for addtional information on the proposed rules.
The proposed rule is designed to prevent ethanol plants, which also use grain (but with antibiotics to control bacteria), from sending medicated grain to farms. By comparison a brewery uses (antibiotic-free) grain and is therefore preferred by farm.
Unfortunately the policy makers have deducted that breweries and distilleries will need to follow the same policy. In short, most breweries will be forced to dispose of their grain locally via the nearest landfill or invest in a process to dry and package their used grain, prior to shipment to farmers.
So far at least one farmer from Enumclaw (Washington), Krainick Dairy LLC / Krainick Ag Products LLC, have chimed in regarding the rule change.
"... having requirements mandating recordkeeping (tracking dates and amount of spent grain hauled) and having a written disposal plan in case of contamination or foreign objects is actually a good protocol and something we already do."
In case it's unclear why Krainick Dairy LLC is opposed to the rule change, it's in light of the fact that 'wet' grain simultanesouly hydrates and nourishes their livestock. While dry feed still requires water to assist with the digestive process.
As of today any breweries who oppose the rule change should use the following form, located here http://brewers.informz.net/Brewers/archives/archive_3146038.html. Brewers and farmers have until March 31st to submit comments either in support or against the proposed rule change.
Northwest Beer Guide