Big Brewers Expected To Buy Less Montana Barley This Year

Jan 26, 2017

Tough times continue for Montana grain growers.

George Haines, an economist at Montana State University says farmers last year saw, "grain prices in a free fall, really a tough year."

Speaking Tuesday, Haines said:

"Even barley prices, that they were selling to Coors and to InBev, etc, have kind of propped up the grain market, at least those have been the good stories in the grain market, but even those are getting tough. There’s fewer contracts out there this year, looks like that’s going to be a real challenge I think as we move into 2017."

Haines' prediction came true the following day, when two of the state's largest buyers of barley announced plans to reduce the number of contracts they offer to growers by as much as 60 percent.

The Great Falls Tribune reported Wednesday that Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors informed barley growers this year that they will only be purchasing a fraction of the malt barley they have in recent years.

The two brewing giants say the decision was brought on by an abundance of barley harvested in recent years.

The companies account for the purchase of nearly two-thirds of the barley grown in north-central Montana.

Officials from the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee expect bid reductions to drop between 20 and 60 percent, resulting in a possible loss of more than $65 million in revenue.