The Brewers Association and Congressman Peter DeFazio recently arranged a tour and tasting at Port City Brewing Company for members of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide a better understanding of the handling and removal of spent grain from small breweries. The FDA is currently reviewing comments submitted regarding a proposed ruling included in the Food Safety and Modernization Act that would regulate the use of spent grain as animal feed. As proposed, the ruling could have harmful effects on the small brewing industry.
Port City Brewing Company owner Bill Butcher welcomed the opportunity to engage members of the FDA. He often interacts with his government officials—local, state and federal. Butcher states, “As brewers we are in a highly regulated, highly taxed industry. We need to have good relationships with those who regulate our businesses. We need to do our part to engage our government officials and help them understand the unique aspects of small brewery businesses as much as possible.”
Butcher led the tour, which included Congressmen DeFazio (OR-4) and Moran (VA-8), FDA Deputy Commissioner Mike Taylor, Erik Mettler and Laura Pillsbury from the Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine and legislative staffers Megan DeBates and Kerry Arndt. Butcher walked them through the entire brewing process, paying particular attention to how the used grain is handled during the brewing process. The brewery works with a farmer in Fauquier County, Va. who picks up the spent grain every Friday driving it to his farm, which is 50 miles away, where it is used as animal feed.
Congressman DeFazio, who is also co-chair of the House Small Brewers Caucus, was encouraged by the response of Deputy Commissioner Mike Taylor who agreed that there is a need to reconsider the proposed ruling so as to recognize the legitimate and beneficial use of spent grains by small brewers and local farmers.
Congressman DeFazio reflected on the visit, “I was pleased that the FDA’s Michael Taylor took time to visit Port City with Bill Butcher and me. I think the tour was a great success. In a perfect world, this is the way Washington would always work—getting decision-makers out to see the issue first-hand and talking to the people their rules affect. I was happy to see the FDA withdraw its first proposal on spent grain and I will continue to push for a common sense rule that will not hurt the relationship between brewers and small farmers.”