Thursday, July 20, 2017

Schumer Seeks New Insurance Option for Malt Barley Producers in NY

From U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer:

Schumer during a visit to the 1886 Malt House in Volney
Craft breweries and distilleries are booming this summer, pouring local products onto shelves, increasing tourism and infusing new jobs across Upstate New York.

Because of this U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said last week that it’s imperative that the federal government provides even 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 to begin the process of giving New York the Malting Barley Endorsement (M.B.E.), a special federal insurance option, available to only a select group of states that grow malt barley.

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 nurturing the growth of this new industry. 

Schumer said 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.

Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., both fought earlier this year to get 44 New York state counties included in the malt barley crop insurance program.

Last year, Schumer successfully pushed the USDA to bring malt barley insurance to four New York counties but argued that with crop insurance now secured, it is time for the USDA to grant Malt Barley endorsement.

“With summer now in full swing, many in Upstate New York and beyond are reaching for ‘Made in New York Craft Beers.’ These beers and spirits represent a new and flourishing industry for New York state, and Upstate New York is increasingly becoming the Napa Valley of craft brewing,” Schumer said. 

“Not only do distilleries and breweries throughout Upstate New York pour local products and jobs into our economy, they also open new tourism opportunities, 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 not only benefits our growers, but all those who call New York State home,” said Schumer.

“That’s why I am calling on the feds to endorse this enhanced insurance protection for malt barley. 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,” he said.

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 many New York farmers are beginning to grow this barley, which ends up being used to make beer and spirits. 

Malt houses, like the 1886 Malt House at the ethanol plant in Volney, take the barley seed grains and put 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, who have the yeast and fermentation conditions needed to make beer and spirits.

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.

New York state has 213 craft breweries:
** In the Capital Region there are 29 craft breweries
** In Central New York there are 27 craft breweries
** In Rochester – Finger Lakes region there are 42 craft breweries
** In Western New York there are 24 craft breweries
** In the Southern Tier there are 32 craft breweries
** In the Hudson Valley region there are 36 craft breweries
** In the North Country there are 23 craft breweries

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. 

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