For many years, farmers have purchased brewers’ leftover grains to use as animal feed. This relationship is beneficial for both the environment and the parties – it allows the farmers to feed their animals at a reasonable low cost, and it gives breweries a way to dispose of their used grain. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Enter a newly proposed rule by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that could completely disrupt farmers’ and brewers’ harmonious relationship. On October 29, 2013, the FDA proposed a new rule to “Establish Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventative Controls for Food and Animals.” Under the proposed rule, breweries would have to adhere to the same new Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) that animal food manufacturers are required to follow, and which address the manufacturing, processing, packing and handling of animal food. The proposed CGMPs require covered facilities to maintain a food safety plan, perform hazard analyses, institute preventative controls for mitigation of hazards, and monitor controls, verify that such controls are effective, take corrective action to fix ineffective controls and maintain records documenting their corrective actions. With this new rule, the FDA hopes to reduce health risks to animals and humans by better regulating the handling of animal food.

So what does this mean for brewers? In order to continue selling grain to farmers, brewers would have to adhere to the new FDA regulations, and very likely increase the cost of the grain and/or their beer being sold. If too costly for a brewery, this could mean the end of sales to farmers all together and the disposal of the used grain without the ability to put it to another beneficial use.

For more information on Stark & Stark’s Beer & Spirits group click here.