Lt. Governor Mike Cooney this week is leading a trade delegation to Mexico to visit with executives from several of Mexico’s largest brewers about the quality of Montana barley and the importance of the Montana-Mexico trade relationship. The mission is sponsored by the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee (MWBC) in coordination with the United States Grain Council.
“Mexico is the United States’ third largest trading partner and the largest importer of U.S. malt barley,” said Lt. Governor Cooney. “The trade relationship has become increasingly significant for Montana barley growers and it’s vitally important to our agriculture industry that we reaffirm and build these relationships.”
In addition to meeting with executives from Heineken Mexico and Constellation Brands, Lt. Governor Cooney is kicking off the Cerveza Mexico Expo, an annual gathering of Mexican brewers, importers, exporters and input suppliers. The delegation will also meet with the Mexican Craft Brewers Association, which represents 120 independent breweries from around the country.
Maltsters around the world covet the high quality of Montana’s two row barley, most of which is grown for malt. In 2017, U.S. malt exports to Mexico were valued at $242 million, accounting for about 84% of all U.S. malt exports. With Montana being one of the top barley-producing states in the U.S., Montana barley accounted for a significant share of those exports.
Montana Department of Agriculture Director Ben Thomas, MWBC Executive Vice President Collin Watters, and MWBC Director and Fort Benton-area farmer, Mike O’Hara, are joining Lt. Governor Cooney on the trade mission.