GREAT FALLS – Despite recent trade tariffs and tensions along the Mexican border, Montana barley growers got a bit of a morale boost recently.
Gov. Steve Bullock recently sat down with executives from the Mexican Craft Brewers Association to sign a Memorandum of Understanding 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 percent of those imports are born and raised in Montana,” said 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% of United States barley is malted and sent to Mexico for beer production.
United States malt exports to Mexico were valued at $242 million in 2017 with nearly 70% 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 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.
-Jason Laird reporting for MTN News