Bennet, Gardner fight for hop growers in Senate farm bill
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., this week introduced an amendment to the Senate farm bill to allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fight plant diseases that most threaten the livelihoods of hop growers.
The bipartisan amendment would encourage ongoing work at the USDA to address two diseases — powdery mildew and downy mildew — that can wipe out as much as 15 percent of a hop field, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue for hop producers across the country each year.
“Colorado brewers count on healthy hops to produce the high-quality beer that many of us enjoy,” Bennet said. “This is the least we can do to ensure that top-notch USDA research continues to support the burgeoning Colorado hop industry.”
“Colorado brews the best beer in the world thanks in large part to the hops grown in our state,” Gardner said. “This bipartisan amendment enables the USDA to do more to combat the diseases that threatens hops and cause millions in lost revenue each year. It will be good for both Colorado’s brewers and beer drinkers.”
Bennet and Gardner are members of the Senate Bipartisan Small Brewers Caucus. The amendment is endorsed by the Brewers Association, which represents small, independent craft brewers across the country. Last year, sales of craft beer totaled $26 billion, according to the association.
U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, R-Ore., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, also cosponsored the amendment.