Senate Ag Committee Hears Farm Bill Testimony on Hops- Craft Beer

The Senate Agriculture Committee held a Farm Bill hearing in Michigan on Saturday where two panels of agricultural industry participants provided testimony on varies aspects of U.S. farm policy.

Pam Bouma Miller, a hops grower from Michigan, indicated on Saturday that, “The Michigan craft brewing movement has fast become nationally recognized as a leader in the industry. The economic impact of Michigan’s craft beer industry is significant contributing to over 7,000 jobs with wages over $232,000,000 and economic output of over $600,000,000 as early as 2014 published by the Michigan Brewers Guild. It has only grown since, and the demand for local hops in a region with ideal attributes for hop growth exists due to climate exploded. The Michigan Brewers Guild exists to promote and protect the craft beer industry in Michigan and actively tracks the economic impact, public policy, legislation and regulations. Overall, the craft beer market grew 6.2% in 2016, and is the primary source of the increasing demand for Michigan hops throughout the country. The craft beer market is 12.3% of the overall market. The relationship between the hops growers, processors and brewers is important to the overall success of each other’s interests, and each take a specialized set of skills, but in many ways they are all integrated.

Today Michigan is ranked 4th in the nation with over 1,000 acres in hop production. We have 200 growers supplying 200+ breweries in Michigan alone, and some additional purchasers which are international countries, including Thailand and Denmark for example. Michigan hops account for 5% of the $252.6 million hop export market. It is also important to recognize the unique opportunity the Hop Growers of Michigan are pursuing through a Farm to Glass Bill to provide tax savings for the use of Michigan hops in Michigan beer.”

Ms. Miller also pointed out that, “In order for the Michigan hops industry to thrive and grow, the next Farm Bill will need to continue support for specialty crop programs. Last year, the Michigan hop industry used a Specialty Crop Block Grant to establish hop quality standards, provide education and training to growers and develop a two- level voluntary verification program. In considering the issues of specialty crops, the hops industry will need support in order to grow and these block grants have served the economic interests of the growing industry very well.”

Ms. Miller added that, “As the Michigan hop industry continues to expand, growers are looking at new market opportunities through trade expansion. It is critical that the next Farm Bill protect and strengthen the Market Access Program, which is key for specialty crop growers to access new international markets.”

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