Minnesota barley farmer assumes role of vice-chair of the National Barley Improvement Committee
  • 06/28/2023

Minnesota barley farmer assumes role of vice-chair of the National Barley Improvement Committee

Ryan Hough, a farmer from Barnesville, Minnesota, is the new vice-chair of the National Barley Improvement Committee (NBIC). The NBIC is an organization representing the U.S. barley community of growers, researchers, processors, users, and allied industries that advocate for sound farm policy and research funding at the federal level. Leadership for the committee is provided by the American Malting Barley Association (AMBA). Hough will serve as the vice-chair for two years and will assume the chair role in 2025 at the conclusion of the current chair’s term, Dr. Jamie Sherman, barley breeder from Montana State University. 

Hough, with his brother, farms in western Minnesota, and has a diverse operation growing corn, soybeans, wheat, malt barley, sunflowers, alfalfa, and cattle. The Hough’s have been leaders in their community implementing restorative farming practices to bolster soil health and on-farm productivity. Ryan’s interest and experience will be a tremendous asset as the barley industry works intently on proving and improving the sustainable nature of the crop while seeking future investment for making barley more resilient in the future. Hough has been active on the Minnesota Barley Research and Promotion Council along with the National Barley Growers Association where he participated in the Barley Industry Leaders of Tomorrow (BILOT) program.  

NBIC executive secretary, Ashley McFarland, commented that Ryan was extremely effective during the spring fly-in this past March. “I was fortunate enough to make multiple Congressional visits with Ryan this year as Minnesota constituents. Our state yields quite a bit of power in Washington, especially as it relates to agricultural issues. I truly enjoyed watching Ryan in action as he shared his perspectives as a farmer and leader in the industry. I know he will serve NBIC well.” 

Hough accepted this role noting that although barley acreage is declining in Minnesota, the work done by NBIC in D.C. stands to support the entire industry. “I look forward to assisting the industry, in any way that I can. The opportunity to help shape policy and provide a boots on the ground view, to those who haven’t been directly involved in agriculture, is especially important.”

The primary activity of the NBIC is an annual legislative fly-in where the committee travels to Washington, D.C. to present industry priorities to their congressional members. The primary ask for the upcoming federal fiscal year is full funding of the Barley Pest Initiative, a collaborative effort to tackle over 20 insect and disease pressures through improved breeding and management practices. It currently receives $3 million of the $5.3 million requested annually. Visit the NBIC website to learn more about their work.