Washington, D.C. – Just a week after hearing from Davidson Brothers Brewing at an economic development roundtable in Queensbury, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that the new rule being considered on spent grains don’t hurt local breweries, distilleries, and farmers. In her letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Senator Gillibrand called for a risk assessment of the reuse of spent grains – byproducts of the brewing process – as livestock feed. Spent grains, which are fermented to make craft beer and liquors, are an economical and high-protein food source for dairy cows. According to a 2013 Brewers Association survey, brewers currently re-sell or give away nearly 90 percent of their spent grain as livestock feed. The FDA’s rulemaking could force brewers to dispose of these spent grains at landfills, forcing small breweries to incur an average cost of nearly $43 million per year — which could be passed onto consumers in higher prices or hinder job creation.
“Reusing spent grains as feed for our dairy farms is a win for our brewers and our farmers,” said Senator Gillibrand. “By giving or selling their spent grains, brewers and distillers lower the cost of beer and spirit production and provide feed to farmers while ensuring that this byproduct is not sent to a landfill.”
“As founders of Davidson Brothers Brewing, LLC in Glens Falls-Queensbury, New York, my brother Rick and I greatly appreciate Senator Gillibrand’s opposition to this FDA rule which has very significant impacts to both our breweries and farmers of all sizes across the United States. The proposed rule directly hits the family farmers and smaller craft breweries the most without any proven direct or indirect benefit,” said John Davidson.
New York State is home to nearly 100 breweries and nearly 30 distilleries. When grains are heated during the beer-making process, the spent grains are left over when drained. Spent grains are then used as an animal feed which enhances growth and efficient milk production in dairy cattle. Spent grains from beer and spirit production are especially valued because there are no antibiotics used in these fermentation processes and therefore no potential for the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in livestock that consume them unlike spent grain byproducts derived from commercial energy production. There are more than 5,200 dairy farms across New York which can utilize the spent grains. The traditional relationship between brewers, distillers, and farmers lower the cost of beer and spirit production and provides a low cost feed to farmers while ensuring that this byproduct is not sent to a landfill.