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Featured Researcher Bio - Scott Heisel 2023


Meet Scott Heisel, President of the American Malting Barley Association. He currently serves on the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative’s (USWBSI) Executive Committee as a representative for the malting and brewing industry.


Heisel grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with a childhood dream of becoming a farmer. His mother relates that after returning from summer family vacations, he’d head straight to the garden to see what had changed in the last week or two. After receiving B.S. degrees in Biochemistry and Agronomy from the University of Wisconsin (UW), he worked at the USDA-ARS Barley and Malt Laboratory (now the Cereal Crops Research Unit) in Madison, WI. After receiving an M.S. from UW, Heisel moved back to Milwaukee and began working for the American Malting Barley Association (AMBA) in April 1987.


Something had to be Done

Fusarium head blight has been around for a long time and a major reason barley production has been moving west and north, and yet, no one was prepared for the crisis beginning in 1993. One cannot overstate the impact of this disease on producers, and because the initial epicenter was in the heart of the U.S.’s largest production region, it created a tremendous burden on processors and end-users. While the barley supply chain was being deeply affected, the Fusarium endemic highlighted the strength of the U.S. small grains research community. Heisel led efforts to get DON testing methodologies approved by the American Society of Brewing Chemists and is grateful for the assistance of North Dakota State University researchers, Dr. Paul Schwarz and Dr. Howard Casper, for their assistance. This early work on testing and the research of Dr. Schwarz on the fate of DON in the malting process led to Heisel’s participation in Food Safety and Toxicology prior to joining the Executive Committee.


The People

Heisel believes the barley community - including growers, researchers, maltsters, brewers, and distillers - is what makes this work so rewarding. Additional partners forged through advocacy work, including the wheat growers and millers, rounds out a strong, diverse, and successful coalition with focused messaging that has long served the small grains community. The USWBSI is a great example of what we can accomplish working together and have fun along the way. Heisel points to his work in increasing the authorization for the USWBSI in the 2018 Farm Bill from $10 to $15 million and limiting the increase in allowable indirect costs to 10% as his most valuable contributions. Many were involved in these efforts, he points out, but he is especially grateful for Mr. Marvin Zutz of the Minnesota Barley Growers for his efforts. With a new Farm Bill coming, there is an opportunity for another bump in the authorization.


If you are interested in learning more about the American Malting Barley Association and the advocacy efforts, visit their webpage or contact Scott Heisel by email.


You can also check out the series of previous USWBSI Featured Researchers.