For Immediate Release - September 08, 2011

Department of Agricultural Resources Receives USDA Grant to Assist Massachusetts Brewing Industry

BOSTON - September 8, 2011 - Massachusetts agricultural officials today announced an $11,015 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant that will assist local brewers across the Commonwealth.

The grant received by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) is one of 25 awarded by the USDA to 19 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to help create economic opportunities for American producers and businesses. Over the next two years, a DAR project called From Grain to Glass will focus on increasing the use of local ingredients by state craft beer brewers.

DAR officials will examine demand, coordinate educational sessions and case studies, and promote growers and brewers using ingredients from Massachusetts farms. Working with the Massachusetts Brewers Guild, DAR will survey the value and amount of ingredients for current and future products that are or could be sourced from Massachusetts growers.

"By supporting the growing movement of local farm brewers, we are strengthening our own state's agriculture and economic development opportunities here in the Commonwealth," said DAR Commissioner Scott J. Soares." Public interest and very responsive craft breweries and farm businesses have laid the foundation for the use of a wide variety of specialty ingredients grown by Massachusetts farmers, including cranberries, pumpkins, honey, maple syrup, herbs, fruit and even oysters."

Under its Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP), the USDA matches $1.3 million worth of state grants to state departments of agriculture, state agricultural experiment stations, and other appropriate state agencies to assist in exploring new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products and to encourage research and innovation aimed at improving the marketing system.

With input from the Massachusetts Brewers Guild, DAR wrote and submitted its proposal to the USDA's FSMIP program in February 2011 and was awarded the grant in July.

"FSMIP provides our state partners with matching funds to explore new and innovative approaches to marketing U.S. food and agricultural products," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. "USDA supports state and local projects ranging from research to retail to ensure that quality American products are marketed efficiently and effectively."

DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services - DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth's agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR's website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow at twitter.com/agcommishsoares