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Raise a glass, bottle or can to farmers on National Beer Lovers’ Day
Raise a glass, bottle or can to farmers on National Beer Lovers’ Day

Raise a glass, bottle or can to farmers on National Beer Lovers’ Day

Without farmers, there would be no beer

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content

September 7 is recognized as National Beer Lovers’ Day and local establishments are quenching customers’ thirst for a cold beer.

The day is also a time to reflect on the importance of Canadian producers to the beer industry.

And it’s important for customers to know where their beer comes from.

“Anything we as farmers can do to increase our domestic usage for any Canadian product is only better for the country,” Fred Greig, chair of the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association and producer from Reston, Man., told today. “If someone knows they’re enjoying a Canadian beer with Canadian ingredients, that can only be a good thing.”

Canadian farmers sell 2.2 million tonnes of malting barley each year, according to the Barley Council of Canada.

Local beer makers purchase about 250,000 tonnes of the crop and the barley sales contribute $5.8 billion to the Canadian economy.

Statistics Canada estimates Canadian growers will produce more than 331 million bushels of barley in 2017. Alberta is estimated to produce the most, at over 170 million bushels.

Another important ingredient in beer is wheat.

Canadian growers are estimated to produce more than 938 million bushels of wheat in 2017, Stats Canada says.

Saskatchewan growers are expected to produce more than 374 million bushels of wheat, the most of any province.

And choosing a wheat variety that’s useable for beer can be tricky process.

“Varieties are bred specifically for what the beer makers are looking for,” Greig said. “The other side of that is as producers, we require some agronomic packages that helps us profit from the varieties. If the variety is great for malting but doesn’t stand in the field, we can’t produce it.”

And local watering holes are thankful for producers, too.

Canadian beer consumption was 77.1 litres per capita in 2016, according to Beer Canada.

Without farmers, that number would be significantly lower.

“Farmers are one of the keys to our survival,” Orest Horechko, general manager of Fort Garry Brewing Company in Winnipeg, Man., told today. “If there’s no wheat and no barley, chances are there’s no beer, either.”

Canadian farmers are also instrumental in producing wine, vodka and other alcoholic beverages.