SCHUMER COMPLETES 62 COUNTY TOUR IN COLUMBIA COUNTY, BY URGING USDA TO UNLOCK CRITICAL TOOL TO HELP THE CAPITAL REGION’S BEER, DISTILLERIES AND LOCAL BARLEY GROWERS KEEP UP WITH SEASONAL DEMAND & TOURISM
Schumer Urges Feds To Move to Begin Offering the “Malting Barley Endorsement” IN NYS To Increase Protection Available For NYS Growers; Earlier This Year, Senator Successfully Pushed USDA To Provide Malt Barley Crop Insurance For 44 NYS Counties – Including Columbia County
Senator Says Capital Region Now Needs USDA’s Special Malt Barley Endorsement To Keep Up With Upstate's Craft Beverage Growth
Schumer: Capital Region Could Become The Napa Valley of Craft Beer
Standing at Chatham Brewing, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today said craft breweries and distilleries like those in Columbia County, have been booming, pouring local products onto shelves, increasing tourism and infusing new jobs in the Capital Region and across Upstate New York. Which is why Senator Schumer said it is imperative that the federal government provides more support to Upstate New York’s craft beer industry to help new and existing establishments grow. Specifically, Schumer is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allow New York farmers and growers access to the Malting Barley Endorsement (M.B.E.), a special federal insurance option, available to only a select group of states that grow malt barley. Schumer said Malt barley needs very specific conditions to grow and is susceptible to severe weather and disease, making the M.B.E. insurance option an essential ingredient to further nurture the growth of this new industry in the Capital Region and beyond. Schumer said that this will become more important over the next decade when New York State will require farm craft brewers and distillers to source 90 percent of their ingredients from local farms and malt houses, and the supply of malt barley will need to increase to meet this demand.
“Winter is here in Upstate New York and residents are looking forward to coming home to a warm fire and reaching for ‘Made in New York Craft Beers’ like a Chatham Brewing’s Dry Irish Stout. These beers represent a new and flourishing industry for New York State, and Upstate New York is increasingly becoming the Napa Valley of craft brewing. Not only do distilleries, and breweries like Chatham Brewing pour local products and jobs into our economy, they also open new tourism opportunities throughout Upstate New York which is why it is important we continue to support this industry and provide them with all of the available tools needed to succeed now and in the future. New York is on the cusp of a craft brewing renaissance which benefits our growers, our small business owners, and all those who call New York State home,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why I am calling on the feds to endorse this enhanced insurance protection for malt barley in Upstate New York. These breweries are a reflection of New York’s entrepreneurial spirit and must be properly supported by growers who can supply them with the locally sourced resources they need.”
Alongside water, yeast, and hops, barley is one of the major components of beer, and of many spirits produced by distilleries. Malt consists of barley that is germinated and then dried under highly controlled conditions. These conditions help to release the enzymes needed to convert the barley starches into sugars. These sugars are then fed to yeast through the process of fermentation, which ultimately creates the final product - alcohol. Schumer explained that many New York farmers are beginning to grow this barley, which ends up being used to make beer and spirits. Malthouses then take the barley seed grains and puts them through the process of malting; this is so the barley seeds can begin to germinate and thus convert the starches into sugars. This malt barley is then given to brewers and distillers, like Chatham Brewing who have the yeast and fermentation conditions needed to make beer and spirits.
Schumer noted that the craft brewing industry has been growing throughout New York State over the past few years, which has contributed to the success of countless breweries. Currently, there are 213 craft breweries across Upstate New York; 26 of these breweries operate in the Capital Region, and that number is expected to climb in the coming years. This growth has increased the need for local ingredients, like hops and malt barley. The hops industry has already taken off, however, brewing requires hops in much smaller quantities than malt barley. For example, to make a typical keg worth of beer (31 gallons) less than ten pounds of hops would be required. Conversely, the amount of malt barley needed ranges from 70-100 pounds. As a result, New York State will need more farmers to grow barley and more malt houses to convert that barley into malt if the suppliers are to keep up with industry needs.
Schumer said malt barley carries greater risks for loss and lower yields than barley grown for livestock feed because in order to be viable for malting, the grain must meet rigorous quality standards. Many growers, who are covered by malt barley crop insurance, may run into obstacles collecting payments in certain situations. Especially, in New York State, which can endure both heavy rains and long dry spells, entire crops may be deemed unusable if malt barley becomes too moist and prematurely germinates in the field, or conversely dries out and is unable to germinate during the malting process. Due to the high risks for growers throughout New York State, Schumer said it is critical to allow growers to have the choice of obtaining all available federal crop insurance options as soon as possible.
Schumer said that the M.B.E will be especially important because, over the next decade, New York State is expected to require farm craft brewers and distillers to source 90 percent of ingredients from local farms and malt houses. Currently, 20 percent of all hops and 20 percent of all other ingredients, including malt barley, used by farm brewers licensed by the New York Farm Bureau are required to be grown or produced in New York State. However, by 2019, that proportion is expected to jump to 60 percent. By 2024, New York law will require no less than 90 percent of all farm craft beer ingredients be grown, or produced, within the state. Currently, for farm distillers, 75 percent of all ingredients must be produced within New York State. According to the New York State Brewers Association, while only the breweries and distilleries licensed as farm breweries are the ones required by law to meet the 60 percent (2019) and 90 percent (2024) ingredient requirements, most non-farm craft breweries and distilleries are also increasing their sourcing from local areas, so the pressure is mounting to supply New York State-grown ingredients in the coming years.
Malt barley is a necessary ingredient in beer and spirits and, as a result of New York’s Farm Brewing Law, New York State will soon require farm craft brewers and distillers to source 90 percent of ingredients from local farms and malt houses. Schumer said expanding malt barley crop insurance offerings would mean that even more New York farmers will be able to grow malt barley, ensuring that the craft brewing industry has the resources it needs to continue to grow in Upstate New York.
Previously, the lack of crop insurance hindered the rapid expansion of the craft brewing industry and therefore halted job creation in Upstate New York as well. Senator Schumer applauded the USDA’s decision to expand Malt Barley crop insurance to 44 New York State counties in 2018, including Columbia County, however, he is now pushing for the USDA to continue the process of bringing M.B.E Endorsement to all counties in New York State. This endorsement will allow farmers to ensure their barley crop at a higher level, the price which they are guaranteed in their malt house contract. Those contracts specify that the barley must be to a certain standard, but due to weather and other factors, this can't always be met. An endorsement would alleviate this risk for farmers.
Schumer was joined by Tom Crowell, one of the owners of Chatham Brewing, Mayor Tom Curran, John Curtin of Albany Distilling and Rachel Czub, who plans to open a “grain hub” in the Capital Region.
"Ensuring local grain availability is critical to our brewing operations here at Chatham Brewing," said Tom Crowell, co-founder, and owner, Chatham Brewing. "As a decade-old brewery here in Columbia County, we've seen our fair share of disruptions in the supply pipe line due to climate and crop predictions. For many of us in New York's growing craft beverage industry who use our state's agricultural products to make great beer, providing a way to reduce financial exposure for farmers to grow grains in New York State is a overdue step in the right direction. Thanks to Senator Schumer for his leadership on this important issue to our industry."
In June, Senator Schumer announced that, after his push, the USDA would finally provide malt barley crop insurance for 44 New York State counties. Last year, Schumer successfully pushed the USDA to bring malt barley insurance to 4 New York counties but argued that with crop insurance now secured it is time for the USDA to grant the Malt Barley Endorsement.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to USDA Secretary Perdue appears below:
Dear Secretary Perdue:
I write to bring to your attention an emerging problem that may affect New York farmers and small businesses in the near future. I would like to thank the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for recently agreeing to expand the availability of crop insurance for malt barley in New York State to 44 counties for 2018. However, it is imperative that the USDA takes the necessary steps towards offering the malt barley endorsement (MBE) throughout these counties to provide further protection for our growers while continuing to promote the businesses that rely on this important crop.
As you know, the demand for malt barley is growing across New York in part because of the New York State farm Brewing Law that went into effect on January 1st, 2013. This law requires New York farm brewery licensed brewers to source 60% of their ingredients from New York state farms or producers by 2019 and no less than 90% by 2024. This major increase in demand for locally grown malt barley is a great boon to our New York State producers and agricultural industry. However, without access to the MBE, some producers may decide to forgo planting this crop, which will hold back agriculture and craft breweries across the state.
As you are aware, malt barley carries greater risks for loss and lower yields than barley grown for livestock feed because, in order to be viable for malting, the grain must meet rigorous quality standards. It has come to my attention that without the MBE, some growers who are covered by malt barley crop insurance may run into obstacles collecting payments in certain situations. In New York State, which can endure both heavy rains and long dry spells, entire crops can be rendered unusable if malt barley becomes too moist and prematurely germinates in the field, or conversely dries out and is unable to germinate during the malting process. Due to the high risks for growers throughout my state, I urge you to dedicate the necessary resources to begin the process towards offering the MBE across upstate New York, which would provide additional quality protection for growers, as soon as possible. Additionally, to help expedite this effort, I ask that the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) invests resources into their surveys of New York malt barley production to aid in the data-driven introduction of this product to New York farmers.
I appreciate your consideration of this request that will help remove obstacles to scaling up New York’s malt barley supply chain while providing farmers with the opportunity to farm higher value-added malt barley I look forward to working with you on this important issue.
Previous Article Next Article