Distillery bio-fuels produced at the expense of animal feedstuffs?

Concern expressed in Scottish Farmer article

An article yesterday on the Scottish Farmer website reports that the national Farmers’ Union are worried by the increasing use of distillery by-products as fuel for renewable energy installations, rather than feed for livestock. Last week NFUs’ chief executive, Scott Walker, met with members of thte Banff and Buchan Branch – the heart of the Speyside ‘whisky trail’ – to discuss the issue. NFU have written to the Rural Affairs secretary Richard Lochhead to relay their members’  worries over the future availability of dark grains to their industry.

Dark grains are a by product of alcohol distillation  obtained by drying solid residues of fermented grain to which certain solubles (pot ale syrup or evaporated spent wash) have been added. This is a valued feed source for cattle and sheep in Scotland. The union are worried  that the loss of this valued feed source could have a knock on effect on Scotland’s already declining cattle and sheep population.

Mr Walker said: “Scotland may be sleepwalking towards a fundamental change in the availability of animal protein, with negative consequences for the livestock and dairy sectors of Scottish agriculture.

It is not entirely clear where this new concern springs from as previous fears expressed in the middle of last year were dismissed when Helius CoRDe, the developers of the new combined heat and power biomass energy plant at Rothes,  provided reassurances that the draff intended for the biomass plant is a product that does not normally find its way onto the North East or Scottish markets.  As such, it said at the time, supplies of draff to farmers in the area are likely to be unaffected by the development of the new biomass plant. The plant operators also indicated that the availability of dark grains would be unaffected by the planned plant and, in the case of pot ale syrup, that available supplies would actually increase.

There is a full article in the current print edition of the Scottish Farmer which may shed more light on the matter. More on this later.


Dark grains up in smoke – Scottish farmer 15 March 2012

Biomass plant won’t deplete distillery feeds – Scottish Farmer June 2011

Union welcomes feed supply reassurances – NFU website June 2011

Scotland toasts new whisky-powered bioenergy plant – Guardian article May 2011 


3 Responses to “Distillery bio-fuels produced at the expense of animal feedstuffs?”

  • itsyourself:

    As a farmer I am amazed at the fuss about this. Distillery by products are the property of the companies involved. If any of the farmers involved in moaning about this were asked to hand over their beef lamb or grain at low or no cost because it had “aye been” and they “were entitled to it” or “doing the stills a favour by saving them a bill” as they have said, the person concerned would get booted off the farm rather smartly.

  • admin:

    I’ve just read the full article in SF. The gist of it is that the union are suggesting that the biomass plants are purely a ‘box ticking exercise’ to enable the distilleries to meet their emissions obligations. (With the implication that they have an obligation to provide cheap feedstock for farmers, and that this is vastly more imnportant for the nation).

    The problems with this are at least threefold.

    AFAIK the distilleries don’t have any particular ’emissions obligations’ they have to meet, or boxes to tick.

    What they choose to do with their waste products is entirely up to them, nothing to do with the NFU

    The NFU is on a sticky wicket emissions-wise anyway, as more cattle and sheep = more methane. Better to just keep quiet.

  • itsyourself:

    The reason this has been raised is “entitlement” to draff. Some farmers truly believe it is “theirs” because it has “aye been” Sounds daft I know but that’s the reason.

    Emission control from ag is a good story actually nationally, it is falling and we can easily do better. We are moving our farms to min til and cutting our diesel based emissions and costs at the same time.

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