We may forget this, but government can often be a positive force for business, especially when it comes to research and development — funding activities that would not be profitable for the private sector to take on, but from which those sectors can benefit. For example, government plays a big role in funding hop research via the United States Department of Agriculture — Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS). The United States is the No. 1 producer of aromatic hops in the world, and with so many breweries home and abroad seeking them, continued investment is needed.
To remind everyone of this, a coalition of U.S. hop farmers, suppliers and brewers made the trip to Washington, D.C., earlier this month to chat with Congress about the business of hops, emphasizing the importance of public hop research and throwing support behind the call of Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) for an additional $1.8 million for public hops research. This event was organized by the Brewers Association. From the BA’s blog:
The government plays an important role in hop research through USDA-ARS. The D.C. coalition advocated for increased funding for ongoing USDA-ARS public hop research and breeding for the purpose of developing and releasing disease-resistant aroma hop cultivars into the public domain. Releasing hop cultivars with no intellectual property protection ensures that all growers have access to high quality and disease-resistant cultivars needed to sustain production and quality at levels re-quired by brewers.
The increased funding would augment the funds that the Brewers Association has committed to in a trust agreement with USDA-ARS, providing support for expanded public hop research and breed-ing in Washington and Oregon. In the long-term, this important program will fuel efforts of existing legacy growers as well as nascent hop growing operations throughout the U.S.