Press Release

Joined By Central New York Small Brewers, Senator Gillibrand Announces Expanded Barley Crop Coverage To New York State Producers, Boosting Local Breweries & Distilleries

Jul 22, 2016

Syracuse, NY U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today announced that following her push, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expanding barley crop insurance to New York state producers. The new USDA policy will help the small brewing industry in Central New York grow while also expanding economic opportunities for local farmers. Under current state law, many small brewers will soon be required to source local New York barley to produce beer, yet current USDA policies may discourage farmers in New York from growing barley.

“In the last few years, we’ve seen a jump in the number of farm-based breweries in our state, and all of these producers rely on a steady supply of barley,” said Senator Gillibrand, the first Senator from New York to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years. “Unfortunately, because of the current law, crop insurance for barely isn’t available in more than half of the counties in our state, which means many farmers who might want to grow barley for our breweries are holding back because the risk is too high. I’m very pleased to announce that after a long push to the US Department of Agriculture, I just received confirmation that they are going to expand their federal barley crop insurance program to 29 more counties in New York. This is great news for our farmers, who can finally feel secure if they decide to grow barley, and it is great news for our brewers, who will have access to a large and reliable supply of barley.”

 “Quality beer not only requires a skilled brewer but 3 quality ingredients, hops, grains and water.  The production of these agricultural ingredients is riskier in New York and having crop insurance will help farmers take on the risk of growing brewers grains, especially malting barley,” said Steve Miller of Cornell Cooperative Extension. “There is a high demand for malt grade barley and the greatest challenge we have right now is incentivizing grain growers to shift some of their acreage from corn and soy beans into barley. Crop insurance will help tip that balance.”

“Finding good quality grain grown in New York is hard to do at this point. It’s either very expensive or poor quality. Giving farmers access to the necessary insurance to protect themselves should lead to more growers, better quality and lower prices for Brewers,” said Eric Petranchuk, co-owner and brewmaster at Full Boar Craft Brewery.

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, crop insurance for barley is only available in fewer than half of New York counties. Following Senator Gillibrand’s push, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that crop insurance coverage for barley will be expanded to 29 additional counties by crop year 2017, helping position New York farmers and producers to provide the barley necessary for local breweries and distilleries to grow and expand.