February 16, 2016

Gillibrand Urges USDA To Expand Barley Crop Insurance Coverage To New York State Producers To Boost Local Breweries & Distilleries

Currently, Barley Crop Insurance is Only Available in 28 Counties Across New York

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today wrote to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) urging the Agency to expand crop insurance for barley in all counties in New York where production is possible. Crop insurance would afford additional protection to growers of barley and help farmers meet the current demands of local breweries and distilleries. Since 2011, there has been a 72 percent increase in farm based breweries, cideries, and distilleries in New York, which has created significant demand for barley and other small grains.

Currently, there are 28 counties in New York with barley crop insurance including Albany, Dutchess, Monroe, Orleans, Allegany, Erie, Montgomery, Otsego, Cattaraugus, Genesee, Niagara, Seneca, Cayuga, Herkimer, Oneida, Steuben, Chautauqua, Jefferson, Onondaga, Tioga, Cortland, Livingston, Ontario, Wyoming, Delaware, Madison, Orange and Yates. Gillibrand in her letter to the USDA explained there are many producers outside these areas that would benefit from crop insurance for barley. By expanding the current barley crop and developing a production history, insurers would have the data they need to create coverage for valuable malting barley that already covers nearly 2,000 acres of New York farmland.

“Expanding crop insurance for malt barley is an important step to sustain and improve the viability of our farms and farming communities,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, first New York Senator to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years. “A key to encouraging producers to plant these crops is to ensure that they can manage their risk with appropriate crop protection programs. A strong conventional barley program can pave the way for farmers to grow more malting barley which will help meet the growing demand of the brewery and distillery industries here in New York.”

“Senator Gillibrand has been a tireless advocate for expanding barley crop insurance to all of New York’s counties, providing expanded opportunity for the Empire State’s farmers to meet the growing demand of New York breweries looking for local grains of exceptional quality,” said Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. “This vital step in risk management dovetails perfectly with the pioneering work being done by the college’s School of Integrative Plant Science’s faculty in the development of new strains of malting barley that thrive in our state’s climate and novel pathogen mitigation techniques, providing our farmers with the tools they need to thrive.”

The full text of Senator Gillibrand’s letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture included below.

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

I write to request that your office assist the small grain producers in New York State to obtain crop insurance for barley for all counties in which production is feasible. Although barley crop insurance is currently available in twenty eight counties, there are many producers outside these areas that would benefit from a crop protection program. While New York barley production has grown slowly but steadily to 12,000 planted acres over the previous four years, this number is much lower than historical levels when New York barley production accounted for more than 69 percent of all domestic production.

There has been a 72 percent increase in farm based breweries, cideries, and distilleries in New York since 2011, which has created significant demand for barley and other small grains. In order to sustain this robust industry and improve the viability of our farms and farming communities, it is important that barley and other grains are available. A key to encouraging growers to plant these crops is to ensure that they can manage their risk with appropriate crop protection programs.

In the future I hope that your office will continue to work with New York researchers and producers to go further and establish crop insurance program for malting barley. Expanding the current barley crop and developing a more robust production history will enable insurers to create an actuarially sound program for malting barley that will afford additional protection to growers of this valuable crop that already covers nearly 2,000 acres of New York farmland.

I thank you for your efforts on behalf of New York small grain growers, brewers, distillers, and consumers to ensure the continued growth of this important sector of our agricultural economy.

Sincerely,

 

Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator