Regional non-profit economic development organization The Right Place announced that it, along with regional partners and statewide hop growers, has established the Michigan Hop Network, a non-profit association dedicated to improving and promoting Michigan’s developing hop-growing market.
With initial support from a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., The Right Place and its partners have worked tirelessly for the past year to bring together Michigan’s hop growers and craft brewers with the goal of strengthening the state’s craft brewing supply chain. This week, the group’s founding members approved the association’s bylaws, elected a board of directors and officers and filed paperwork with the State of Michigan for official non-profit status.
The new membership-based network will provide a variety of services and support to its members and the Michigan hop industry, including:
• Conducting educational programming and instruction on commercial hop growing and processing in Michigan;
• Facilitating best practice exchanges, sharing of techniques and knowledge;
• Enlisting the support of Michigan higher education institutions for research and development of hop horticulture and processing;
• Promoting and marketing the utilization of Michigan hops; and
• Partnering with other organizations to advance the interest of Michigan hop growers and craft brewing.
“Craft brewers have been very supportive and clear in their message to us in saying it’s all about quality and consistency of the hops,” stated Jeff Steinman, owner, Hop Head Farms, and board chair for the Michigan Hop Network. “As our industry continues to build in Michigan, growing and producing quality hop products will be critical to long-term success. Our goal is to ensure that Michigan growers and processors produce amazing products and establish Michigan as a destination for quality hops.”
Although most of the 30,000 acres of hop farms across the nation are centered in the Pacific Northwest, specifically in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, Michigan hops are quickly becoming a strategic advantage for many craft brewers throughout the Midwest. According to information from the Michigan State University Extension, there were more than 200 acres of commercial hops grown in Michigan in 2013, with more than 100 more acres planned for 2014. To support the growing acreage in Michigan, 10 harvesting centers (called picking centers) and eight processing operations are now established throughout the state.
“If Michigan growers can provide high-quality hops and provide consistency in quantity, the sky is the limit for our industry here,” stated Rick Chapla, VP of business development for The Right Place. “The Michigan Hop Network supports this emerging industry in the state and provides the collaboration and education needed to its members.”
Over the next several months, the new board of directors will further refine the association, establish a regular meeting schedule and approving membership applications. Parties associated with the production or distribution of hops or beer in the State of Michigan interested in membership can contact The Right Place at [email protected]