Welch takes on FDA regulatory roadblock to Vermont brewers providing spent grains to farmers

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Welch takes on FDA regulatory roadblock to Vermont brewers providing spent grains to farmers

Wed, 05/14/2014 - 3:19pm -- tim

At the Alchemist Cannery today in Waterbury, Representative Peter Welch (D-Vermont) unveiled a two-prong bipartisan effort to block a proposed Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule that would likely end the longstanding practice of Vermont brewers providing nutritious and cost effective spent grain to farmers to feed their livestock.  The spent grain would otherwise be dumped in landfills or composted at a significant cost to brewers.

The proposed rule would impose burdensome new requirements on brewers, including onerous record keeping, testing, and process requirements.  For example, it would require brewers to undertake the costly process of drying and and prepackaging spent grain before it could be delivered to farmers.  

“The FDA's rule is a solution in search of a problem," said Welch.  "Since the time of George and Martha Washington's farm at Mount Vernon, this practice has been mutually beneficial and environmentally sound.  The FDA has failed to demonstrate the need for this rule or justify the harm it will cause brewers and farmers. They should go back to the drawing board and exempt brewers.”

Welch released a bipartisan letter on the rule to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg urging her to exempt brewers  and distilleries.  It was signed by 54 House colleagues.  In addition, he introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R.4430) with Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR), Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) that would legislatively exempt breweries and distilleries from the regulation.

“The long standing partnership between craft brewers and farmers is vital to our state’s economy,” said Jen Kimmich who owns and operates the Alchemist Brewery with her husband John. “We supply fresh, nutritious feed to our small, local farmers and in return, we aren’t forced to bring our spent grains to a landfill.  Not only would this be wasteful and expensive, but the impact of increased methane gases is completely avoidable.”

“These grains are of no use to the brewer after the sugar has been extracted and are of wonderful value to the farmer for feed,” said Kurt Stauder, President of the Vermont Brewers Association. “The result of this FDA rule will cause this relationship to end and will add to the cost of the beer because of landfill costs, while using up valuable landfill space.”

Waterbury, VT (May 14th) – Welch