National Barley Improvement Committee sets 2022 legislative priorities

Barley is primarily a public sector crop in the U.S., with most research and development occurring at state universities and USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) facilities. Public sector investment in barley research is so vital due to the crop’s limited acreage, which does not attract private sector investment as other crops do. The National Barley Improvement Committee (NBIC), which represents the U.S. barley community of growers, researchers, processors, users, and allied industries, has been very successful over the years in securing funding at the federal level to ensure barley remains a robust and competitive crop. 

The NBIC has released their legislative priorities for 2022, focusing their efforts on growing investment for the Barley Pest Initiative (BPI), which strengthens research capacity to address over twenty major insect, viral, bacterial, and fungal threats to the production of high-quality barley, which improves returns to growers and meets the needs of domestic and export end-users. The BPI is directed to develop management and genetic resistance strategies to mitigate or eliminate the economic impact of these major barley pests, keeping barley a viable option for U.S. growers, and enhancing value-added job generating enterprises in the U.S. This initiative is a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional collaborative research project of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) intramural (~80%) and extramural university (~20%) programs, involving scientists in fourteen states.

The federal fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget appropriated $1 million at the inception of BPI and an additional $1 – $1.5 million is anticipated in the FY22 budget. The NBIC will be requesting the additional funds needed to bring the effort up to $5.3 million in the FY23 legislative season. These funds will ensure research partnerships with ARS and universities are fully supported to carry out the mission of the initiative. 

Additional legislative priorities that will be addressed by NBIC include sustained support for very successful previous initiatives; including the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative and the Small Grains Genomic Initiative, both of which reached their targeted annual appropriations levels in FY20. Furthermore, NBIC will be calling on Congress to make additional budget increases needed to sustain work throughout the USDA that impacts barley, including the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the Economic Research Service, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Finally, NBIC will be seeking passage of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act of 2021 to ensure small businesses, including small and independent breweries, have the support they need to recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic. 

The NBIC will be sharing these priorities with key congressional members throughout their annual fly-in, occurring both virtually and in-person March 7-10, 2022. To learn more about the Committee and additional details on their legislative priorities, visit the American Malting Barley Association website of whom provides organizational support for NBIC.