BOISE — Major barley producing states are responding favorably to the Idaho Barley Commission’s invitation to work closely on important issues that affect growers in all the states.
“We’ve had some excellent responses,” IBC Administrator Kelly Olson said about a letter the commission sent to other states. “It has yielded a lot of new engagement.”
Idaho is the nation’s top barley producing state.
The letter invited the states to work together on research and market development issues and asked for input “on ideas and strategies that you believe will help our specialty grain industry zero in on untapped opportunities and tackle rising challenges.”
According to the letter, some of the Idaho barley industry’s priorities include “investing in more collaborative research across state lines” and “ensuring a more competitive transportation infrastructure to move barley and malt more competitively to markets across the country and in neighboring markets in Latin America.”
Idaho’s industry also sees an opportunity to cooperate on “diversifying market channels for barley, particularly in the largely untapped domestic human food market.
“We look forward to working with you on these and other opportunities that will help boost barley production in the U.S.,” the letter concludes.
In response, Washington Grain Commission CEO Glen Squires sent the IBC an email that said his group “is encouraged by the opportunities to collaborate, specifically in the area of barley research. We look forward to engaging in a strategy on how we can work together to maximize efficiencies for barley.”
“We look forward to working with the Idaho crew,” stated an email response from Marv Zutz, executive director of the Minnesota Barley Research Promotion Council.
Barley is a relatively small crop and it makes sense to combine efforts on projects that will benefit growers in all the states, said East Idaho farmer Scott Brown, who spearheaded the IBC’s outreach effort.
“We want to take all of our resources, combine them and spend time working together instead of individually,” he said. The states “do work on a lot of the same things. If it’s a problem in Montana and North Dakota, it’s probably a problem in Idaho.”
Olson said the outreach effort is a priority for the IBC and has resulted in particular in a lot of new engagement with Montana, which borders Idaho and shares a lot of the same barley cropping and rotation practices.
Barley is mostly a domestic crop and “to reach more markets and improve the bottom line for all barley farmers, we have to work together,” Collin Watters, executive vice president of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, told the Capital Press. “There’s definitely strength in numbers. I’m really looking forward to working together.”