PORTLAND (AP) — Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree is helping lead a group of lawmakers in support of hops research.

Hops are flowers of the hop plant, and they’re used to impart flavor and aroma to beer. More than 100 lawmakers are calling for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase its commitment to research of the plant.

Pingree, a Democrat, is leading the effort along with Washington Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse, Oregon Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio and Minnesota Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen. They cite the importance of USDA research in developing varieties of hops that are now widely used in the beer industry.

The lawmakers also say brewers would benefit from new varieties of hops that are pest-resistant and climate-tolerant.

The Maine Brewers’ Guild says more research would help boost local hop cultivation.

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