By Rob Sirrine
If you've read about hops in this forum, seen hops growing in northwest Michigan, or enjoyed the aromatic flavors of hops in a refreshing beverage, then we need your help. Last week, as a member of a U.S. Department of Agriculture Organic Research and Extension Initiative collaborative grant, I had the opportunity to travel to Yakima Valley in Washington state to meet with organic hop growers and tour their hop yards and processing facilities.
The grant is a collaborative effort between several universities, Michigan State University Extension and organic hop growers across the U.S. The goal is to identify and develop high-quality hop varieties optimally adapted to low-input and organic production systems. Accompanying me on the tour were Brian and Amy Tennis, of the Michigan Hop Alliance, hosts of one of the two organic hop variety trials in Michigan. The tour and meetings provided an excellent opportunity to learn from researchers, industry representatives and, most importantly, extremely knowledgeable third- and fourth-generation hop producers. From horticultural practices and variety selection to large-scale processing, the Washington growers we visited were forthcoming about their techniques as well as their difficulties.
One of the main difficulties that all U.S. organic hop growers face is that brewers do not have to use organic hops to make organic beer. Yes, it's true. Because organic hops have been in short supply in years past, the USDA's National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) placed hops on the 606 exemption list. While this decision may have had relevance in the past when organic hops were in limited supply, as both large-scale Washington growers and small-scale Michigan growers have expanded into organic production, the American Organic Hop Growers Association (AOHGA), organic hop growers and many brewers believe there are enough organic hops to meet brewer demand. Not two weeks ago, though, and despite overwhelming support, the USDA NOSB Handling Committee voted 6-0 against a petition to remove hops from the list.
Organic hop producers, like growers of other organic crops, grow organically despite the associated higher costs because they believe in the principle of organic production. But since brewers do not have to use organic hops to make organic beer, there is no incentive for them to purchase hops that are organically produced. To assuage brewers' supply concerns, organic hop growers and brewers should collaborate to set a time in the very near future when all organic beer must use 100 percent organic hops.
So how can you help the fledgling organic hop industry? The Fall 2010 NOSB meeting, where the final decision is likely to be made, is Oct. 25-28 in Madison, Wis. The NOSB will be accepting both written comments until Oct. 12, and in-person comments on Oct. 25 and 27. I encourage anyone who supports Michigan's farmers to consider submitting written comments at the very least. Please contact Meghann Quinn, executive director of the AOHGA for instructions on submitting comments. (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.usorganichops.com). Thanks for your support.
Dr. J Robert Sirrine is the Leelanau County Agriculture Educator for Michigan State University Extension. He collaborates with colleagues to develop and offer agriculture and natural resource programs in northwest Michigan.
By Rob Sirrine
Kingsley Co-op headed for history
TRAVERSE CITY -- Kingsley officials plan to tear down a bedraggled building along the village's main thoroughfare. Village Manager Mitchell Foster said an $81,655 Community Development Block Grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation wiContinued ...
Short's Brewing Company celebrates 10 years
The crew at Short’s Brewing Company knows how to tap its creative resources. “Anybody who has an idea can present it to our brewmaster Tony Hansen,” Short’s Brewing Company founder Joe Short said.Continued ...
Uncertainty only thing certain about grape crop
A balky, chilly spring could be just what area vineyards need. “We’d like to continue seeing what the tourism industry probably doesn’t want, which is a slow run into spring,” said Duke Elsner, Michigan State University small fruit educator.Continued ...
Chateau Chantal's second label on hold
Chateau Chantal’s vines were so bountiful last year that Mark Johnson didn’t have enough space to store the season’s wine.Continued ...
Business Memoranda: 04/23/2014
Andrew and Amy Kohlmann, owners of Image360 - Traverse City, donated nearly $1,100 to FLOW (For Love of Water), as part of their 2014 Sign & Graphics Recycling Program.Continued ...
Glenn Puit: Right Brain owner had a vision
Russell Springsteen’s mindset about beer changed during a trip to Germany.Continued ...
Pirate's Cove putting for patriots
Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf is preparing a fundraiser to assist those who served our nation.Continued ...
Business in Brief: 04/23/2014
Innovative rehab; Financial counseling; Blue Cross sponsors outing. (Plus more)Continued ...
Buckley mainstay has new owners
The goal is simple for Tracy Cinco and Lance Jewett: Offer a small-town restaurant environment at their Main Street Café.Continued ...
Martial arts master gives back
A family tragedy led James R. Adkins to a lifelong quest of martial arts mastery.Continued ...
Andrew McFarlane: Vineyards, quality wines grow
John Crampton told me back in 1992 that when he and his wife Jo planted the first vines for Willow Vineyard, they had no idea of the incredible growth that was just around the corner.Continued ...
Painting by Paul turns 30
Paul Roebke’s first customers saw his name and number written on one of the 5-by-7 index cards he passed around Traverse City when he started his painting business in 1984, a month before his high school graduation.Continued ...
- Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Nonprofit's Detroit farm work moves ahead
A nonprofit’s plans to create agriculture projects in Detroit neighborhoods are moving forward.Continued ...
Business in Brief: 04/22/2014
Gas prices up 2 cents over the past week; UAW withdraws appeal of VW union vote.Continued ...
- Sunday, April 20, 2014
Mancelona looking at options after manufacturing decline
Mancelona was born of manufacturing, but it may not be its future. Logging, iron works plants and auto parts manufacturers built the area since it was founded in the 1870s, but those industries have dwindled and so has Mancelona’s economy.Continued ...
Water contamination continues in Mancelona
Industrial boom caused more than economic bust. Industry left plumes of contaminated water, too.Continued ...
Dennis Prout: MyRA makes sense for some
Some investors may question why they should consider a MyRA when so many financial advisors online have panned the concept.Continued ...
- Saturday, April 19, 2014
Gold prices melt on China fears
Gold prices plunged this week, falling over $40 per ounce during the day Tuesday, the largest sell-off this year. Prices sank after poor economic news from China indicated that gold demand may be waning there. China was the world's largest gold consuContinued ...
Agriculture Forum: Saying it doesn't mean they got it!
TRAVERSE CITY -- Even when you think you do a good job of communicating with employees, you don't really know what they heard unless you ask. On a recent farm visit I witnessed a great example of a "communications board" for employees. The farm ownerContinued ...
- Friday, April 18, 2014
Building Permits 04/18/2014
Building permits for 4/18/14Continued ...
Assumed Names 04/18/2014
Assumed names for 04/18/14Continued ...
- Thursday, April 17, 2014
Detroit launches grants for small biz
Detroit government, development and philanthropic leaders launched a grant program Wednesday intended to help boost small businesses in the city and the two communities it surrounds.Continued ...
Why high oil prices are actually good for airlines
Airline executives frequently complain about fuel costs. But the truth is higher prices actually have been good for business.Continued ...
- Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Renee's House of Quilting helps quilters reap what they sew
The bolts of fabric at Renee’s House of Quilting are a sunset of color even when the world outside is gray and dreary.Continued ...
Zakey owner celebrates six years in business
Nabiel Musleh’s master’s degree in international relations seems fitting, given his unofficial role as northern Michigan’s ambassador to the Middle East.Continued ...
- Kingsley Co-op headed for history