The starch and saccharification enzymes in beer are more often than not derived from malted cereal grains, most commonly malted barley and malted wheat. The latter is facing decreased profitability in America, compared to other crops, and that might mean shortages and hurdles for craft brewers looking to create wheat beers.
Recently, the leaders of the National Wheat Foundation (NWF) and National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) announced a joint effort to develop a comprehensive business plan to revitalize the U.S. wheat industry. The National Wheat Action Plan will be a collaborative effort developed with strategic input from key stakeholders across the industry. This effort will serve as a catalyst to increase public and private research and improve wheat productivity and farmer profitability.
“The wheat industry is not keeping pace with other crops. As a wheat grower-leader, I want to see the industry flourish not decline. Reinvigorating the wheat industry will come from increased productivity and profitability,” said NAWG President Brett Blankenship, a wheat grower from Washtucna, Wash. “This strategic plan will provide us with the insight and analysis we need to move the U.S. wheat industry forward in a stronger direction.”
The wheat industry is facing decreased profitability in comparison to other crops, a lack of significant productivity gains, increased global competition and negative consumer sentiment regarding the healthfulness of wheat-based products.
“Wheat has a lot of potential,” said NWF Chairman Dusty Tallman, wheat grower from Brandon, Colo. “We want to make sure that potential is fully achieved. We recognize that current efforts are insufficient to generate the turnaround the U.S. wheat industry needs, and we need to change that.”
The plan includes research to analyze producer attitudes, best practices and views of the future of the wheat industry, stakeholder input from across the industry and a review of existing funding models both in wheat and other commodities. Following the information gathering, NAWG and NWF will develop a comprehensive business plan that identifies the best revenue generation model for wheat, outlines the steps needed to develop that model and identifies specific uses for national funds and a process for application, distribution, reporting and accounting.
The effort has already attracted significant support from industry partners including: CropLife America, Monsanto, Syngenta and WinField. Let’s dive into the quotes:
“Our nation’s wheat growers have worked tirelessly for generations, making sure that Americans are able to enjoy food products made with wheat,” stated Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CropLife America. “Bread, bagels, cereal and pasta [uh, beer?]: These are all staples of a healthy diet, and the crop protection industry will continue to support wheat growers in producing these nutritious foods.”
“Monsanto is investing in wheat research and commercialization to bring value to our customers today and into the future,” said Dr. Jeff Koscelny, Wheat Commercial and WestBred brand lead. “But truly raising the bar on wheat productivity and profitability will require innovative technology transfer techniques and a collaborative approach from everyone in the industry. With both of these at the heart of this initiative, we’re proud to be a part of it.”
“Syngenta is pleased to support the U.S. wheat industry as it develops the new National Wheat Action Plan. This is a true partnership where farmers and industry can have an open dialogue to develop the platform driving wheat’s profitability,” said Ryan Findlay, Syngenta North America industry relations lead. “Syngenta is committed to providing farmers with industry-leading genetics, crop protection and innovative solutions such as hybrid wheat to transform how crops are grown.”
“Participating in this collaborative effort that addresses both productivity and profitability for an important segment of American farming is a natural for us,” said Mike Vande Logt, chief operating officer of WinField U.S. “Developing solutions that help farmers succeed in the field and the marketplace is at the core of who we are and how we operate. We look forward to the solutions we can develop working together.”