4 August 2023
There is speculation that the thirst for a cold one could have been the catalyst for farming thousands of years ago. Today, dedicated farmers whose skill, expertise, and adoption of modern agricultural practices ensure the reliable production of top-quality barley and hops for beer. As we savour the distinctive flavours and aromas of our favourite brew, so too should we recognise the vital role of farmers and the plant science industry in delivering better barley and hops, for better beer.
“In the heart of Australian culture lies a deep-rooted affection for beer”, said Chief Executive Officer of CropLife Australia, the national peak industry organisation for the plant science sector, Mr. Matthew Cossey.
“Beer is one of the great Australian success stories. Around 85 per cent of beer consumed in Australia is also grown, malted and brewed here, generating $16 billion every year for the economy. Australian farmers also supply 30 to 40 per cent of the global trade in worlds-best malt barley.
“Beer is a unique product enabled by agriculture. For the purists it is made up of only four key ingredients, hops, barley, yeast and water. Hops were first brought to Australia in the 19th century by immigrants who brought their best beer recipes with them. It’s now a crop grown in a range of locations in Australia with the cool climate of Tasmania and the Victorian mountains providing the perfect environment for growing a rich variety of aromatic hops.
“With a perfect climate, however, comes the perfect opportunity for insects and diseases to attack the crop. That’s why the plant science industry plays a crucial role in research and development of innovative crop protection products to ensuring that hops and malt barley meet the highest technical specifications, free from the damage caused by insect pests and plant diseases which could taint the flavour and quality of the end product. This commitment to excellence is the foundation that helps craft some of the world’s finest beers right here in Australia,” said Mr Cossey.
Over $20 billion of Australian agricultural output is attributable to the use of modern crop protection products; equivalent to 73 per cent of the total value of Australian crop production. Barley is no exception.
Without the use of crop protection products, it is also estimated that up to half of all hop production could be lost to pests meaning hops could not be produced in Australia on a commercial scale.
“Whether you drink beer or not, International Beer Day is more than just an excuse to blow the froth off a coldie. It’s a reminder that agricultural innovations are core to delivering the everyday moments of joy we can take for granted,” concluded Mr Cossey.