Beer jobs cheer - report

THOUSANDS of new jobs could be created in the ‘grain to glass’ beer-making chain, according to a new report.

The vital role the beer supply chain plays within East of England’s rural economy was highlighted in a new report launched at the Houses of Parliament this week.

Around 32,000 rural jobs in the East of England depend on brewing and pubs, with more than �484million paid in rural wages. Farmers in the region grow enough malting barley to produce 3.3 billion pints of beer a year, according to Grain to Glass.

The initiative, launched jointly by the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), highlights the economic importance of beer and calls for the Government to do more to help the industry grow, and says thousands of jobs could be created if it gets its policies right.

Barley grower and NFU regional combinable crops chairman Andrew Watts said: “It’s a marriage of skills between farmers, maltsters, brewers and publicans that produces the perfect pint from the perfect ingredients.

“It’s time to raise a glass to this British success story and ensure we have the right policies in place to ensure this supply chain thrives in the future.”

Norfolk farmer Teddy Maufe, who features in the Grain to Glass report, said: “We should be making more of the importance of malting barley growing to the rural economy, and hopefully this initiative will be the start of it.”

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The report highlights the challenges the sector faces from high taxes, heavy regulation and falling beer consumption.

Growers have been striving to improve the quality of barley and hops and schemes like Red Tractor enhancing the local provenance of British beers, but the Government could do more to help the industry to grow, the report says. It is calling for a number of policy changes, including a review of the impact of beer duty, and more investment in crop research and development.

It also argues for less and better regulation, both on and off the farm and in transport

It wants support for pubs and highlights the need for planners and local authorities to recognise the importance of the pub as the hub of rural communities and to reflect it in their policies.

BBPA chairman Ralph Findlay said: “Beer is a British product made from natural ingredients, and pubs are at the heart of local life.

“It’s a great British industry of which we are proud.

“The need for economic growth is now top of the political agenda, and rightly so.

“The right policy and regulatory framework can help us create much needed jobs in rural areas.”