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January 5, 2004
For immediate release

Study Looks at Feasibility of Malt Barley

Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture & Forestry

Getting "value added" and developing new products are two of the key goals of 21st century agriculture. For the province's barley growers, there would be an opportunity to accomplish both objectives, if a malt barley plant was built in the province.

With funding help from the Prince Edward Island ADAPT Council, responsible for the administration of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development (CARD) Fund on the Island, the Island Grains and Protein Council commissioned Baker Consulting to conduct a feasibility study into the idea of a plant.

"We know we can grow malt barley here we have proven it in the past," said grain grower Allan Ling of Wheatley River. "However, it was not feasible because the shipping costs to Montreal virtually ate up the profits that's why we decided to take a look at the idea of having a small plant here."

Ling said the target for the plant would be the micro breweries and home breweries that have sprung up across the country. He added, "It would have to be a niche market we are not looking to take on Labatt's here." The grain grower said he has spoken to one micro brewery owner in the province who expressed an interest in purchasing a local product.

Peter Boswall, Field Crops Extension Agrologist with the Prince Edward Island Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture and Forestry, worked with the Island Grains and Protein Council on this project. He described the final results as "pretty positive." He agreed with Ling that Island growers have shown they can grow a first-class product. "There are about 80,000 acres of barley grown on Prince Edward Island in a normal year, and the plant could look at converting 5,000 acres of that into quality malt barley," Boswall said.

Since malt barley commands a higher price, the plant would have a positive impact on the grower's bottom line. However, both Ling and Boswall said the stumbling block right now is financing of a different sort. The consultant's study pegged the cost of the plant at $6.5 million.

While both men expressed confidence that price tag could be cut, neither said the industry was in a financial position to build the plant on its own. "We are hoping to partner with a private sector entrepreneur," Ling said. "The next thing that has to be done now is a marketing study and then identify possible financing sources."

Both men said the project has been on the back burner for the last several months, but Ling added, "We are hoping there is somebody out there that is prepared to pick up the ball and run with it I think it is an excellent idea."

(This is one of a series of articles prepared by the Agricultural Awareness Committee and funded by the Prince Edward Island ADAPT Council and other partners to highlight new and innovative developments in the province's farming community.)

Media Contact: Daphne Crosby
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