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It is a valuable livestock feed, food ingredient, beer component and is even used to lower blood pressure, but if barley loses its market, farmers will feel the economic pressure. After Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver in 2019, China banned two major Canadian grain trading companies from exporting canola seed to that country. While the three-year prohibition was lifted in May of 2022, it left the barley sector to question its own trade relationship with China. Could Canada be next? If so, what then?

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This year marks a half century of barley breeding at the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre (CDC). The program has created plenty of top-tier varieties for western Canadian farmers since 1971.

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Canadian beer is one of the best kept secrets in the world,” said Michele Tse, who co-owns Far Out Exporters with her husband Don. “American, European and German beers are popular all over the world. Canadian beer just hasn’t gotten out there yet.”

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Lorelle Selinger is the canadian barley supply chain manager for Prairie Malt Limited (PML) and Cargill Malt. A farm girl from Holdfast, SK, she studied agricultural economics at the University of Saskatchewan prior to working in the Biggar and Loreburn elevators for the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. Switching gears in the late 1990s, Selinger moved to Winnipeg, MB, and traded grain for the Canadian Wheat Board. In 2012, she started her current role at PML, commuting between Winnipeg, Biggar, SK and Spiritwood, North Dakota.

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