The leader of a Washington state hop growers co-op is visiting Iowa Wednesday for a seminar at Iowa State University — but not to teach Iowans to grow the key ingredient in beer. Rich Pirog of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University says they’ll hear about the coop’s process for selling their product directly to brewers.He says they have special arrangements with some customers where they receive a percentage of the profit — something that’s not done for most other “input suppliers.” Pirog says they want to see if the system might work for soybean and corn farmers in Iowa.He says at least in theory, if the product sells better and there’s more profit, the grower would benefit. Pirog says that’s totally different than the way things are usually done. He says it’s important for Iowa farmers to find new ways to benefit from the crops they grow.He says one of the big struggles Iowa farmers have is that the risks and rewards in the supply chain are not equally shared by each partner. He says farmers are quite often the ones who “get the short end of the stick” when it comes to squeezing costs. Pirog says they don’t know if the methods used by the Washington hop growers will translate to Iowa, but he says they want to hear about it to find out.
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