VOLNEY – Standing at the 1886 Malt House in Volney today (April 10), U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer pushed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand access to malt barley crop insurance to growers across New York State.
Schumer explained that there are currently only four counties that have access to federally backed malt barley insurance coverage in New York State, even though farmers in other states have broad coverage.
Schumer pointed out that the state-of-the-art 1886 Malt House is a critical link in meeting the local ingredient needs of farm and craft breweries across New York State, but said that most of their partners in the regional malt barley farming community lack critical insurance to grow the crop, which needs very specific conditions to grow and is susceptible to severe weather and disease.
Schumer said that access to this crop insurance will become increasingly important because, over the next decade, New York State will require farm craft brewers and distillers to source 90 percent of ingredients from local farms and malt houses, and the supply of malt barley will need to increase to meet this demand.
“Distilleries, breweries, and malt houses like the one here in Volney pour local products and jobs into our economy, which is why it is important that we continue to support this industry by providing them with every available tool necessary to continue to grow.” said Senator Schumer. “But the lack of federally backed insurance for malt barley is preventing farmers from planting this crucial crop. Without protections, the risk is just too high for some, and that could prevent our malt houses, craft breweries and distilleries from meeting requirements of New York’s Farm Brewing Law. In order to meet the current demand of craft brewers and distillers, New York State growers will need to significantly increase their malt barley production. That is why I am calling on the USDA to expand access to this vital product beyond the 4 New York State Counties that can access it now. It is time to make this insurance available across the state so that our farmers, malt houses, distillers, and brewers can tap into their full potential.”
Schumer highlighted the success of the growing craft brewing industry in NY.
1886 Malt House is a state-of-the-art facility that cost $12.5 million to build.
The name 1886 commemorates a time when the craft beverage industry was booming in New York State. It is also the year that the Statue of Liberty was gifted to the United States.
The plant will be completed in 2017 and it will supply more than 2,000 tons of barley malt each year, which makes it a significant supplier of barley malt to the craft brewing industry in the U.S.
Over the course of 2016 and 2017, 1886 Malt House has contracted malt barley with growers in Genesee, Orleans, Madison, Oneida, Erie, Onondaga, Niagara, Cayuga, Franklin, and Otsego counties but seeks to continue to grow their contacts across New York State.
Currently the facility has 500 acres of the crop under contract for 2016 and 700 acres under contract for 2017. This has and continues to be a boom for local farmers and it serves as a significant step forward for the craft brewing industry in New York.
Schumer stressed that supporting these farmers and Malt Houses will help ensure this growing industry continues its momentum.
Schumer explained that there is currently a need for increased malt barley production throughout New York State as a result of its burgeoning craft brewing industry.
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 Central New York farmers are beginning to grow this barley, which they then often provide to malt houses like 1866 Malt House.
These malt houses 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 noted that the craft beer industry has been growing throughout New York State over the past few years and in the Central New York.
This growth has increased the need for local ingredients, like hops and malt barley.
The hops industry has already taken off, however hops are needed in much smaller quantities than malt barley.
For example, to make a typical half-keg worth of beer (15.5 gallons) less than five pounds of hops would be required.
Conversely, the amount of malt barley needed ranges from 35-50 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 the industry needs.
Schumer said that this is especially important because, over the next decade, New York State is expected to require farm 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 Brewery 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 locally 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 Brewery 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.
Last year, Schumer successfully pushed the USDA to bring malt barley insurance to Cortland, Otsego, Ontario, and Genesee counties for the first time, but said that the USDA needs to continue expanding access to this crop Insurance coverage across NY.
New York State has approximately 2,000 acres of malt barley, which will be used by the 9 malt houses including 1886 Malt House. In the future, NY barley farmers will have to significantly increase barley production to meet the needs of New York State brewers and distillers.
Schumer was joined by plant general manager Tim Hardy, Erin Tones manager of marketing and logistics, and maltster Noel McCarthy, as well as employees and local elected and economic development officials.