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Beer Government The Almighty Buck

Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon 397

Posted by timothy
from the overarmed-and-overreaching dept.
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "The aficionados of beer and distilled spirits could be in for a major price-shock, if proposals by the Food and Drug Administration come to pass. Currently, breweries are allowed to sell unprocessed brewing by-products to feed farm animals. Farmers prize the nutritious, low-cost feed. But, new rules proposed by the FDA could force brewers to implement costly processing facilities or dump the by-products as waste. As one brewer put it, "Beer prices would go up for everybody to cover the cost of the equipment and installation.""
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Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon

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  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @01:14PM (#46795533) Journal

    No, really... this is getting nuts.

    I get the whole general protection of the average citizen from crimes, but we really need to shrink the reach and scope of these bastards.

    • by rolfwind (528248) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @01:55PM (#46795763)

      Reading this on ethanol made me lose any hope in the government being anything but Oligarchy run:
      http://www.mossmotors.com/Site... [mossmotors.com]

      AFAIK, putting 10% ethanol in gas drops the mpg of cars more than 10%. At least according to a Consumer Reports article I read years ago and they went by rule experience. Basically it means that if they took all the ethanol out of the gas, and gave you 0.9 gallons pure gas instead of 1 gallon adulterated, you as a driver would be better off.

      So the entire industry is completely taxpayer supported bullshit. We're carrying an industry that has no use. And this in an era where water table is decreasing (corn is unbelievably thirsty), food prices and meat rising astronomically, etc.

      I have friends in the corn states. The corn farmers (and usually farm corps) are well off... at the expense of everyone else.

      And there are hundreds of other examples like that. For every 1 good thing the government does, it seems there are 4-5 examples of overreach which costs everyone and only benefits a small segment.

      • by HiThere (15173)

        I think you overstate the inefficiency of ethanol as a fuel...though perhaps you need to tune your engine differently to take advantage of it.

        OTOH, it is a remarkably poor fuel when one considers the costs of originally producing it. Sugar cane is much more plausible, but doesn't grow in the same areas. The best argument for corn derived ethanol fuel that I can see is that any corn used as fuel won't be turned into fructose syrup. AFAIKT, this is basically a government subsidy to the large growers. A ve

      • by InvalidError (771317) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @05:41PM (#46796825)

        If you live in an area of where temperatures drop a fair bit below freezing for a fair chunk of the year, you would end up adding ethanol as a fuel anti-freeze. It is also a weak solvent for compounds that are not soluble in gasoline, absorbs moisture, reduces the likelihood of engine knocking and a handful of other benefits.

        Ethanol does have lower energy density than gasoline but it has enough benefits for some amount of it still being generally desirable - if you removed all ethanol from gasoline, gas companies would likely replace it with a more complex additive cocktail that might not perform quite as good.

    • by capedgirardeau (531367) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @01:56PM (#46795775)

      I like my government to help make sure things are safe for eating and drinking.

      And I especially like when the government responds to criticisms by saying they didn't understand this issue when they made their rules and will take comments from the industry and revise their proposed rules as they have done in this case.

      I know it is not as fun for the anti-government types, but even the linked to article mentions it at the very bottom of the story:

      The FDA will open up the rule to comments again this summer and then revise the proposal, which is due to be finalized by August, 2015.

      So this is already a non issue, they have agreed to revise the rules so there are not the dire consequences the article was using to stir everyone up.

      • Great so they make a rule to ban a 100 year old practice, based on no evidence that it is unsafe--gee after 100 years. Then take comments to adjust the rule great.

        • by ThePhilips (752041) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @02:33PM (#46795963) Homepage Journal

          OMFG. You frigging yankees can't even RTFA.

          "OMG! ZOMG! gov't taking our freedoms!!! this must stop now!!!!!"

          Let me help those of you who are not yet blind with rage, by quoting the RTFA:

          The spent grain is hauled to dairy farms in the area, giving local cows a high-protein, high-fiber feed.

          The proposal would classify companies that distribute spent grain to farms as animal feed manufacturers, possibly forcing them to dry and package the material before distribution.

          It's not targeted on breweries specifically. It is targeted at diary farms. It is about accountability what the cows are fed with. Breweries inserted themselves into the market and, as suppliers, are subject to regulations.

          • by pepty (1976012) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @03:49PM (#46796333)
            Yup. According to the article, brewers would lose up to one cent in revenue per sixpack ($30 per ton of spent grain) if this rule went through.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by clay_buster (521703)
            This is probably the best recycled feed the dairy farmers get. The government is going to regulate something with no history of problems while letting cows continuous antibiotics and while letting the grain companies coat seed in known biological disrupt-ers. I'd said they are focused on the easy problem while letting the bug companies skate.

            The proposal would classify companies that distribute spent grain to farms as animal feed manufacturers, possibly forcing them to dry and package the material before distribution.

            It's not targeted on breweries specifically. It is targeted at diary farms. It is about accountability what the cows are fed with. Breweries inserted themselves into the market and, as suppliers, are subject to regulations.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        but it IS an issue because while they are wasting time on this, spending money on this, they could be putting resources in places that actually need them
    • I get the whole general protection of the average citizen from crimes, but we really need to shrink the reach and scope of these bastards.

      That's the reason for political correctness: to expand the scope of government past immediate risks to ideological risks. It's a power grab.

      The correct way to deal with this is not to be anti-politically correct, but to stop being politically correct. That deprives government of its justification for its new powers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Data? Facts? What is your analysis of the feed proposals?

      Oh. you're just another Right wing Anti-science nut.

      OK. next?

  • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@NOspAM.gmail.com> on Saturday April 19, 2014 @01:16PM (#46795549) Homepage

    You can count on us Canadians to provide you with quality beer that isn't watered down and has actual kick to it! Though you will have to occasionally deal with Molson, and perhaps some weird off-brands, or something oddly flavored for the trendy folks at the centre-of-the-univerise(Toronto).

    • *contemplatively sips Guinness*

    • I've been to Montreal. The local beer, which was mostly lager, sucked. The Canadian IPAs I tried also sucked. In the US, the big-brand lagers suck too but the hundreds of beers produced by the multitude of US micro-breweries do not suck at all. They're easily some of the best beers in the world.
  • by lagomorpha2 (1376475) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @01:18PM (#46795561)

    Wouldn't eliminating a source of cheap feed also increase milk and beef prices?

  • Better living through regulation strikes again. It is part of a well oiled machine.

    Obama: My Plan Makes Electricity Rates Skyrocket [youtube.com]

  • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @01:27PM (#46795611) Homepage

    Brewers get $30 a ton for the waste from beer manufacturing. Per can/bottle of beer, that's negligible.

    Brewers can continue to sell this as animal feed. They just have to follow the same rules as everybody else who sells animal feed, like Purina Chows and Cargill. The big plants will have to do a little more processing and testing. The "craft brewers" don't produce that much waste, and it's biodegradable.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by l0ungeb0y (442022)

      Brewers get $30 a ton for the waste from beer manufacturing. Per can/bottle of beer, that's negligible.

      You're the one that's full of shit. From the article:

      The equipment and set up to do that would cost about $13 million per facility

      Why don't you tell us how that $13,000,000 cost per brewing facility will be paid off by that $30/ton "profit" and thus be a negligible cost.
      Also, what of the costs to your beef, which will also go up due to the loss or increased cost of feed?

      • Because the brewers will just dump it. They'll lose $30/ton + about $15 per ton to dump it at the local landfill unless they find another buyer. 1 ton of grain probably makes over a thousand gallons of beer. So $45/1000 = .0045 or 5 cents per gallon of beer. This is not even taking into account that the landfills probably closer and they don't find another buyer.

      • Why don't you tell us how that $13,000,000 cost per brewing facility will be paid off by that $30/ton "profit" and thus be a negligible cost.

        It won't be. That's the point.

        Brewers are either giving this stuff away for free or making as little as $30/ton so that they don't have to deal with it. They simply won't spend the $13M, since they have no reason to do so, and will instead landfill all of this stuff for cheap. Thus, this whole "beer price crisis" is a fictional event that will never occur.

        If that equipment is going to be purchased, it will be purchased for the beer industry by the livestock industry, since they are the ones who stand to los

      • by gman003 (1693318)

        You're missing the point. The point is, right now they make a relatively small amount of money by selling off what would otherwise be waste. The regulation doesn't force them to do anything unless they're selling that "waste" as animal feed. If the testing and equipment make it unprofitable, they can simply dispose of the waste, losing an income of $30/ton. Relative to their profits from their actual core business, that's negligible. Beer will not suddenly double in price - beer is roughly $1000/ton (based

      • by laird (2705)

        The maximum possible rational impact would be $30/ton, because if the cost of processing were more than the cost of selling the material, they would stop selling it, which would cost them $30/ton. So it's impossible for the impact of this on a bottle of beer to be more than $30/the number of bottles produced making a ton of this feed.

        If it cost $13M to outfit a facility with processing equipment, they would only spend that money if selling the feed were profitable after the cost, in which case the "cost" wo

    • Re:Bullshit (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jklovanc (1603149) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @02:19PM (#46795893)

      Brewers get $30 a ton for the waste from beer manufacturing.

      The lost revenue is not the issue. The breweries could just put it in a landfill and the beer prices would hardly be effected. The costs would come in the equipment and manpower needed to comply with the new regulations. Letting perfectly good animal feed go to waste because a bad regulation is prohibiting the sale is a bad idea.

      They just have to follow the same rules as everybody else who sells animal feed, like Purina Chows and Cargill.

      Every farmer who sells hay does not have to package that hay in closed sanitized containers. There are different regulations for different kinds of feed. Another issue is that the transport is very different. Most large feed manufacturers have large plants that ship feed over a wide area. This feed can sit around for weeks or months before it is used. In that time there is a very good probability that any small contamination could grow into something serious. Spent grain is sanitized during manufacture, shipped extremely short distances and used within a few days of production. There is very little possibility of contamination in that time. Comparing spent grain from small breweries to Cargill is like comparing a weekend bake sale to Mr. Christie [snackworks.ca]

      I am not against regulations as I see them as protection but bad regulation is just stupid.

    • Brewers get $30 a ton for the waste from beer manufacturing. Per can/bottle of beer, that's negligible.

      While that may be true, the cost would inevitably be higher that merely profits lost -- even assuming they don't pay for expensive processing equipment to turn it into feed. If they weren't able to even give it away as feed, they'd probably have to pay to dispose of it in landfills or something, which would add further costs. Presumably some farmers who want to use the stuff and essentially get it for free maybe even pay for transport costs and so forth, which would now be on the brewers to pay to get it

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      The "craft brewers" don't produce that much waste,

      According to this article;

      Craft brewers sold an estimated 15.6 million barrels* of beer in 2013,

      A barrel is 31 gallons and a gallon of beer produces about a poind of spent grain. Here is the math. 15.6M * 31 = 241,800 tons of spent grain that could be used for animal feed rather than being wasted in a landfill. To me, 242 thousand tons is significant.

      and it's biodegradable.

      So is paper yet we recycle paper. This material will take up room in landfills. In a time where we are running out of landfills not using that much feed is stupid.

  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Saturday April 19, 2014 @01:31PM (#46795637) Homepage Journal

    OK, so tell me where in the Constitution I should look for Federal power to regulate beer that doesn't cross state lines.

  • Follow the money (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chthon (580889) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @01:32PM (#46795647) Homepage Journal

    We should try to follow the money more when such rules are implemented.

    Who benefits the most from this? Big, big breweries who feel probably threatened by people who brew good beer (as a Dutch colleague of me said, they make Heineken by pumping the Maas water into the bottles).

    This is a US problem. What company bought (more or less recently) a US brewery? Those Brasilian pump-and-dumpers do not know anything about beer, only about making money by selling something that resembles beer and manipulating the stock market, and since it is rather easy in the US to bribe officials, this really looks a move from their side.

    We are not here to decide if we are paranoid, but to decide if we are paranoid enough.

  • by tylikcat (1578365) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @01:34PM (#46795653)

    I love to know exactly what kind of pathogen they're envisioning - something that infects the mash (which admittedly is a rich culture, and if it starts out sterile it's not going to stay that way for long) and then infects the cows in a way that will be a problem for humans. E. coli is already in the cows (hence the regulations concerning the use of fresh manure on crops likely to be eaten raw) and cows will do a lot of their own processing. Milk products are generally pasteurized anyway. Somehow I'm not exactly seeing a spent grain prion vector...

    I'm doubting this will go through. Now, if they're really worried, funding a small study to look at whether it's a likely vector might make sense.

    (Not that I'd be sad to see more spent-grain bread. Tasty, that.)

  • Clowns on the left want to over-regulate, jokers on the right want to under-regulate, stuck in the middle without brew.
  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @01:36PM (#46795667)
    Forget the beer price...think of the cows! No more 'brewing by-products.' That's gotta be a whole lot better than what the replacement will be.
  • I once worked at a place where we produced a lot of waste contaminated lubricant. We securely set this barrels, and a nice guy would come by and pump it out and reprocess it and sell for whatever it could be used for. It cost the firm a bit in storage costs, but also save us a bit in waste disposal.

    If you RTFA, and even the headline, there is no problem here for the brewers, except for the one example in which the waste was sold to a broker. In this case the waste would be worth less so they might not

    • by hax4bux (209237)

      You are making way too much sense. Are you lost?

    • I once worked at a place where we produced a lot of waste contaminated lubricant. We securely set this barrels, and a nice guy would come by and pump it out and reprocess it and sell for whatever it could be used for.

      Ron Jeremy?

  • by Arakageeta (671142) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @02:15PM (#46795877)

    Recent CNN report on the prices of beef and dairy: http://money.cnn.com/2014/04/1... [cnn.com]

    This will increase the cost to farmers too. That gets passed on to consumers. But perhaps we're all just commenting on the obvious: Production cost of X increases. The production cost of any product Y directly (or transitively) dependent upon X will also increase (or the value/quality of Y may decrease to compensate).

  • Even pre-industrial humanity had that one figured out. Hell, even pre-historical humanity had it figured out.

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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