New York has set its course in the world of alcohol production — it wants more local producers, and it wants them to use local ingredients. To do that as the decades roll and the industry grows, there needs to be more. We have an article on the potential problems that lay ahead for hop production coming up at noon today, but first some good news about barley.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expanding barley crop insurance to New York state producers. This is huge for local barley production because there is a lot of risks associated with growing barley. The new USDA policy will help the small brewing industry in Central New York grow while also expanding economic opportunities for local farmers.
“Quality beer not only requires a skilled brewer but three 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.