National Barley Improvement Committee makes a full, in-person return to the Hill
  • 03/14/2023

National Barley Improvement Committee makes a full, in-person return to the Hill

The National Barley Improvement Committee, which represents the U.S. barley community of growers, researchers, processors, users, and allied industries, has just returned from its first fully in-person trip to Washington D.C. since 2020. The team of 30+ barley enthusiasts participated in over 90 Hill visits advocating on behalf of federal research funding for the barley industry. 

NBIC’s priority ask sought an increase to the appropriation for the Barley Pest Initiative (BPI). The BPI is an effort to strengthen research capacity to address over 20 insects and diseases that impact barley yield and quality through development of new resistant varieties and management strategies. In the most recent spending bill, the BPI received $3 million in support, but the NBIC team is actively working to secure an additional $2.3 million to bring the total in FY24 to $5.3 million annually. Already, in just two years of partial funding, the researchers working on the BPI have made great progress. You can read more about this work on the American Malting Barley Association website

Coming off a successful hybrid fly-in in 2022, the NBIC team wanted to get their members back into Congress, especially given so many new Congressional members that had not been exposed to the Barley Pest Initiative. The reopening of buildings and offices was welcomed and allowed for a nice mix of NBIC veterans and many new members to interact and engage in lobbying efforts. In addition to the BPI, support was also vocalized for other initiatives and agencies within the USDA that are critical to the barley industry as outlined in their legislative priorities

“There was great energy in D.C., both from our NBIC members and throughout the halls of Congress,” said Ashley McFarland, who serves as executive secretary of the NBIC. “Although I’m grateful for the virtual options we had to interact with Congress over the past few years, there’s nothing like being on the Hill and engaging in the process of advocating for your industry in-person. We will continue to use all platforms available to communicate our needs, but I’m hoping this marks a permanent return to our annual spring fly-in.”