Shea-Porter Leads Bipartisan Congressional Delegation Calling on FDA to Protect Small Businesses and Small Farmers

Press Release

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) led a bipartisan group of more than 50 Members of Congress calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to exempt alcohol facilities' spent grain from its proposed animal feed regulations.

"Local breweries, distilleries, and farmers around our district and around the country have engaged in this mutually beneficial relationship for hundreds of years," Shea-Porter said. "Even President George Washington saw the benefits of feeding nutritious spent grains to his own livestock, providing Mount Vernon with feed for 150 pigs and 30 cows. It's imperative that the FDA's rules remain focused in their scope, and do not attempt to solve food safety problems that do not exist."

Spent grain is a natural byproduct of brewing and distilling. It is composed of leftover grains and water from the fermentation process and is often higher in protein content and more nutritious than commercially available feed. For years, breweries and distilleries have offered spent grain to local farmers for little to no cost. Ending this relationship would cause irreparable harm to both the businesses, which would be forced to send their grains to the landfill, and small farms, which rely on spent grains as a cheap and nutritious feed for their livestock.

The FDA's recent proposed rule would have required alcohol facilities to package their spent grain under the same regulations as commercial feed producers. Rather than paying for this extra expense, many alcohol facilities would be forced to dispose of their feed in landfills. On March 14, 2014 the FDA stated that it would resubmit its proposed animal feed rule after hearing extensively from stakeholders. Congresswoman Shea-Porter is requesting that the FDA exempts alcohol facilities from the animal feed rule.

May 5, 2014

The Honorable Margaret Hamburg, M.D.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20933

Dear Commissioner Hamburg:

We write to share our concerns regarding the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) proposed rule for Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals. The FDA has shown proper judgment in the rulemaking process by agreeing to resubmit the proposal for further comment later this year and we thank the FDA for its willingness to remain flexible during the rulemaking process.

We support the FDA's efforts to implement rules that fulfill the Food Safety Modernization Act's (FSMA's) intention of improving confidence in our nation's food supply by eliminating risk factors in the national food chain. However, it is imperative that these rules remain focused in their scope, and do not attempt to solve food safety problems that do not exist.

For many years, breweries and distilleries across the country have offered their spent grain to local farmers for little to no cost. This mutually beneficial relationship has provided local farmers with nutritious, cost-effective, and readily available feed for their livestock. Many small dairy farmers, ranchers, and others rely on the inexpensive spent grain to feed their animals. Termination of this beneficial relationship will cause economic harm to both the breweries providing the spent grain and the small farms receiving it. Many small farms, the backbone to America's growing local food boom, rely on the inexpensive spent grain to feed their livestock.

Requiring breweries and distilleries to comply with these additional regulations will make the current practice of donating or selling spent grain cost prohibitive. Instead of helping small farmers across the country, breweries will be forced to waste spent grain by sending it to landfills. Many small breweries are leaders in making their companies sustainable and environmentally conscious. This proposed rule would greatly inhibit those efforts.

The proposed rule would be especially burdensome to the 2,700 craft breweries in the U.S. These breweries employ over 110,000 people and provide more than $15 billion in economic activity throughout the U.S. In addition to potentially stifling this growing industry, we are concerned that this proposed rule could have a devastating impact on small and family-owned farms, and could force them to shut down if they lose access to affordable feed.

When the proposed rule governing animal food is republished, we encourage the FDA to address these concerns, to include a specific exemption for alcohol-related facilities identified in Section 116 of FSMA, and to avoid placing an undue burden on our nation's small breweries and farms.

Thank you again for your work on this issue, which affects breweries and farms across the country. We urge you to ensure that your proposed rule is fair to all affected parties. Thank you for your consideration.