Collin Watters (1), Cassidy Marn (1), Buzz Mattelin (1); (1) Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, Great Falls, MT, U.S.A.
Farmers have been called the “original environmentalists” because
they have always depended on the health and long-term productivity of
the ecosystems they utilize to make a living for their families. Since
the days of the American Dust Bowl and subsequent conservation
enlightenment, farm families have continued to strive for true
sustainability in their businesses. As more and more attention is
focused on sustainability from Main Street to Wall Street, malt barley
producers are ready to answer the call and do their part. This
discussion aims to highlight the many social, economic and environmental
benefits of malt barley production in the United States from a historic
perspective, as well as look to what the future may hold. The inherent
nature of malt barley makes it an ideal crop for many farmers throughout
the northern plains and Pacific Northwest as it requires little
moisture and chemical input compared with competing crops. Recent
improvements in precision farming technologies, soil conservation and
health measures, as well as irrigation efficiencies, have enabled malt
barley growers to maximize production using fewer resources over time.
In addition, diversification of plant genetics has led to more malt
barley being produced in rain fed, or unirrigated areas, and the
establishment of winter barley varieties now allows growers to conserve
more water. The U.S. malting industry is also in full support of growers
who seek further operational efficiencies, offering many different
programs that help growers track progress and identify best management
practices. In all, a sustainably produced beer begins with sustainably
grown barley, which U.S. malt barley growers will continue to deliver.
Collin Watters holds a B.S. degree in agriculture science and an
MBA in agriculture economics from Western Illinois University. He worked
for the Montana Department of Agriculture in business development and
management roles from 2005 to 2014. Since January 2014 he has served as
the executive vice president of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee,
whose mission is to foster the sustainability and prosperity of
Montana’s wheat and barley farmers.