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Montana Ag Network: Collaboration continues with Mexico and Montana barley growers

Posted: 12:26 PM, Jan 07, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-07 14:26:06-05

Despite recent trade tariffs and tensions along the Mexican border, Montana barley growers got a bit of a moral boost recently.

Governor Steve Bullock recently sat down with executives from the Mexican Craft Brewers Association (ACERMEX) to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote continued collaboration between the group and Montana’s barley growers.

“Mexico is the largest importer of US malt, and industry groups estimate that nearly 70% of those imports are born and raised in Montana,” said Governor Bullock. “Now more than ever, it is important that we nurture and enhance these trade relationships to ensure our producers maintain and grow their access to foreign markets.”

According to the Department of Agriculture, about 84 percent of United States barley is malted and sent to Mexico for beer production.

In 2017 the United States malt exports to Mexico were valued at 242 million dollars, with nearly 70 percent of that originating in Montana.

“Basically, the gist is, barley is grown in Great Falls, it’s malted in Great Falls, it’s then sold to a brewer in Mexico.” Said Collin Watters, Executive Vice President of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee.  “A lot of the beer manufactured in Mexico is then shipped back to the United States.”

The MOU affirms the burgeoning trade relationship between Mexico and Montana.

The understanding includes a personal invitation from Governor Bullock for the group and its members to visit Montana for a trade mission, to see the quality of Montana barley in-person and to meet and visit with Montana barley growers.

The MOU also encourages the group to explore new procurement opportunities within Montana that will allow the state and ACERMEX to build mutually-beneficial connections and relationships.

ACERMEX was formed in 2008 by seven craft brewers who saw the need to organize themselves as an industry chamber with the objective to defend the category of craft beer and improve the conditions of the brewing industry in Mexico. To date, ACERMEX has 120 independent breweries throughout the country.

Story by Jason Laird, MTN News