Brewers, distillers, and many food suppliers rely on maltsters to meet their businesses’ needs for high-quality barley.
As barley acres decline due to competition from other crops, loss of traditional feed barley markets, and a decrease in government programs, it has become imperative to have public sector barley breeding programs to develop robust varieties that have improved agronomic and quality characteristics to ensure an adequate supply of barley for the industry. Improved agronomics is crucial to keeping malting barley competitive with other crops.
To achieve improved agronomics and help ensure robust barley varieties for the future, research funding is vital to the continuation of public sector breeding programs. Without associations such as the American Malting Barley Association (AMBA), public sector researchers would have a difficult time meeting the expectations of a thriving industry. AMBA‘s main objective is to enhance the national public sector barley research infrastructure. Regular members of AMBA have input into malting barley variety development and other programs. AMBA provides nearly $400,000 through membership dues, to the University Grant Program, which supports multiple breeding programs across the United States. With the University Grant Program, breeders have the opportunity to submit lines that meet the recommended quality parameters to the Quality Evaluation Subcommittee for further testing and evaluation.
The National Barley Improvement Committee (NBIC), run by AMBA, prioritizes national needs and lobbies the federal government to fund barley research. Since 1998 the NBIC has secured over $76.5 million for barley research and an additional $20 million for USDA facilities that house barley projects.
AMBA also partners with other organizations and groups, such as the National Barley Growers Association, to ensure farm policies are advanced through the government to provide growers with a safety net for barley. Without growers, there would be no barley.
These contributions from AMBA and other support organizations and associations are incredibly vital to the future of malting quality barley in the USA. It is with community support and funding the work of passionate researchers and experts that barley varieties and agronomics will further improve and American barley acreage will continue to grow.