The Issue

The market for locally grown grains — used in products like bread and beer — is expanding. But to compete with grains available elsewhere, local crops need to be of high quality and safe for human consumption. Processors (bakers, maltsters, brewers, and distillers) need a reliable way to test grains to assure quality and safety.

UVM Extension’s Response

UVM Extension’s Northwest Crops and Soils Program created the Cereal Grain Quality Testing Laboratory in 2010. The lab is the first of its kind on the East Coast. It conducts quality and safety testing services for growers and processors, and analysis on grain samples from field research plots. With these lab assessments, growers can determine the quality and safety of their products before distribution to the marketplace.

More than 2,200 samples from commercial operations and 2,000 samples from other universities have been tested so far. An additional 8,000 samples have been analyzed from UVM Extension’s research plots.  Farms and other stakeholders from 23 states have submitted grain for analysis at the UVM laboratory.

Economic Impact

Demand for these tests increased from only 100 grain samples in 2010 to over 700 commercial samples in 2016. As a result of this work, farmers have:

  • Increased grain yields
  • Improved grain quality
  • Connected with new markets
  • Increased or maintained employment
  • Expanded small grain acreage

These benefits resulted in an average of $7,000 in economic gain per farmer. For millers, the value was over $35,000 each. Commercial bakers who once believed it was impossible to produce a saleable loaf of bread with more than 20% local wheat, now feature several loaves with 100% local grains. With UVM Extension’s assurance of high quality and safe products, the success of local grains is growing in Vermont.

Read more at the Cereal Grain Testing Lab website.

This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Heather Marie Darby