Push For Crop Insurance Essential For NY Craft Beer Industry

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Inside 1886 Malt House’s 40,000 square foot Volney facility, a key ingredient to craft beer, malt barley, will soon be processed.

But farmers still need to grow the barley and, right now, their reluctant to do so.

“It comes up in every conversation that we have when setting up a contract for growing barley,” Erin Tones, the marketing and logistics manager for 1886 Malt House, said.

Some farmers think growing barley necessary for craft beer is too risky. Insurance for those crops is only available in four New York counties, including Otsego and Cortland.

The USDA will need to approve the expansion of malt barley crop insurance to all New York counties. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer appeared at 1886 Malt House to show his support for the move. 

“Everybody would like that insurance to fall back on in the case of inclement weather [or] bad seeds,” Tones said. “[There are] all kinds of reasons why it could come in very useful,” she added.

Soon, New York will require farm craft brewers and distillers to source 90 percent of ingredients from local farms and malt houses. Supply of malt barley will need to increase to meet that demand.

“Having that crop insurance means our farmers are growing the grain that fuel malt houses, fuel breweries and distilleries,” Tones said. “We can have a product that comes from New York State right from the first step. It should be important to everyone.”

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