Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand, Maffei Announce Nearly $500,000 In Value-Added Producer Grants For Three Farms In Central New York & Empire Brewery In Syracuse

Aug 20, 2014

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representative Dan Maffei today announced $499,243 in federal funding for three Central New York farms and a brewery. Kriemhild Dairy Farms, located in Madison County, will receive $49,999; Good Life Farm, located in Seneca County, will receive $49,818; Side Hill Farmer’s Cooperative, located in Onondaga County, will receive $199,426 and Empire Farmstead Brewery, located in Onondaga County, will receive $200,000. The funding was allocated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program. The funding will go toward generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income. In the case of Empire Brewery, the funding will go toward helping them expand their operation, grow their own hops and bottle their own beer for the first time.

“Ensuring that agriculture is able to flourish and the unique needs of New York agriculture are considered in federal programs has always been a top priority of mine,” said Senator Schumer. “These much-needed funds will help three farms in Central New York expand production, increase sales and revamp marketing techniques to stay innovative in today’s information age. This direct USDA assistance will allow them to better generate economic revenue, making it a win-win for our agriculture industry and the entire Central New York economy.”

Schumer continued, “The craft brew industry is booming in Central New York, and Empire is one of the breweries leading the way. That is why I stood at Empire Brewery in July and pushed for this value-added federal funding. Now, with this funding secured, Empire will be able to create its own bottling facility and grow its own hops, allowing it to serve as a prime example for a new brewery business model for operations across the state. This funding will not only allow Empire to increase its ‘farm to bottle’ production, but also create jobs in the region and solidify it as a major economic driver throughout all of Central New York.”

“This is great news for Kriemhild Dairy Farms, Good Life Farm, Side Hill Farmer’s Cooperative and Empire Farmstead Brewery,” said Senator Gillibrand, first New York Senator to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years. “We need our farmers to thrive if we’re going to have a strong and growing economy in New York. These federal grants will help ensure that our small farms and independent producers have the resources they need to bring their products to market and continue to drive economic growth in their region and across the state.” 

“Agriculture is a vibrant and critical part of our economy in Central New York, and we must do everything we can to ensure our farmers and producers have the resources they need to succeed,” said Rep. Maffei. “These important funds will help farms in Central New York expand their operations and continue to create jobs in our region.”  

“We at Empire Brewing Company are delighted to hear the news that our Farmstead project has been approved for the USDA’s Value-Added Producers Grant. Both Senator Gillibrand and Senator Schumer have worked hard in support of this grant and for this we are very grateful,” said David Katleski, President, Empire Brewing Company & NYS Brewers Association . “Becoming a first-time farmer has its challenges, and to tie farming and agritourism to the Craft Brewing industry  is a business model that we are confident the USDA will hold up as an example for others. This grant allows us to grow both figuratively and literally. Central New York is our home and we look forward to creating increased opportunity for jobs and quality products.”

The VAPG program is designed to help boost farms’ income and productivity by increasing access to capital, providing technical assistance and developing new marketing strategies for independent producers to increase exposure and broaden their customer base.