The primary purpose of the American Malting Barley Association, Inc. (AMBA) is to help ensure an adequate supply of high quality malting barley for the malting, brewing, distilling, and food industries. Throughout the history of AMBA and its predecessors, this overall objective has been met by developing malting barley varieties with improved agronomic and quality characteristics. These improvements keep malting barley competitive with other crops so that growers continue to plant it and produce an adequate supply of malting barley of consistent and suitable quality. Improvements in yield, disease resistance, lodging resistance, and other agronomic characteristics are coupled with improvements in malting and brewing quality for improved utilization by our industry.
The primary efforts of the industry in developing improved malting barley varieties in the United States have been coordinated through associations. These efforts began in 1938 with the founding of the Malt Research Institute (MRI) in Madison, Wisconsin. The MRI served as a coordinating agency for the evaluation of barley varieties and selections for industrial suitability. It also funded research at the USDA-ARS Cereal Crops Research Unit (formerly the Barley and Malt Laboratory), University of Wisconsin. The MRI began its program with the evaluation of the varieties Wisconsin Barbless (Wisconsin 38) and Oderbrucker grown in 1939 under contract in Wisconsin.
The Midwest Barley Improvement Association was formed in 1945 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1954 it broadened its scope to include the entire US and changed its name to the Malting Barley Improvement Association (MBIA). The primary objectives of MBIA were to increase and maintain malting barley production and to improve malting barley varieties. MBIA met these objectives by funding research at agricultural experiment stations and through an extension program with farmers. In 1959 the MRI was merged with MBIA in order to effect closer coordination of expanded research activities being sponsored by the malting and brewing industry.
AMBA, a nonprofit trade association was formed in 1982 and became operational in early 1983 when its predecessor organization, MBIA was dissolved.