NY Farm Brewery Bill Clears Committee

New York state S.5078, a bill sponsored by Senator David Valesky, took an important step toward adoption today when it cleared the State Senate Committee on Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business. The goal of the bill is to recreate the once vibrant New York hops growing industry and add to the already booming agri-tourism business.

The agriculture and beer industries in New York State are already major job creating engines, pumping more than $4.7 and $1.2 billion into our economy each year respectively. The Farm Brewery license bill will allow for better synergy between these two important industries by allowing farmers to operate on and off premise accounts and also supply hops to other craft breweries.

The bill requires that a large percentage of the hops and other ingredients used to brew beer at a farm brewery be purchased within New York State. In the late 19th century, New York grew about 90 percent of the nation’s supply of hops, only to see the industry disappear with the advent of industrialized beer production. The rise of smaller niche and craft breweries represents a unique opportunity for hops farming to once again flourish in New York State.

“This bill represents a true win-win,” said Julie Suarez, director of public policy for New York Farm Bureau. “The licensing provisions will allow a farm brewer to bottle and sell their products on or off premises and in the wholesale or retail markets. This opens up new and exciting opportunities for farmers to enter the craft beer business and to increase farm related tourism. At the same time, the provisions that require farm brewers to use an escalating percentage of locally grown hops, will stimulate new opportunities for growers. Hop barns once dotted New York’s landscape, and if this bill is enacted, they will again.”

“This legislation is a real victory for the agricultural community and small businesses. In addition to providing new opportunities for farmers through increasing demand for local products used in beer production, it will stimulate agri-tourism much like we’ve seen with farm wineries in New York, and has the potential to create new jobs,” Senator David J. Valesky (D-Oneida), sponsor of the legislation.