The state’s industry risks running out of one of its key locally grown ingredients if farmers can’t find coverage.
The average person likely doesn’t have much interest in New York crop insurance, believing it to be the business of farmers and politicians. However, a recent development has brought the issue closer to home in a very visible way.
Malt barley crops are seen as a risky type of crop for local farmers who hesitate to grow it without coverage.
Farmers are reluctant to grow the malt barley crops because of the risk involved when selling it in contracts to craft beer companies. Only four counties in the state sell New York crop insurance for growing malt barley. This means that farmers outside those counties would need to grow the plants at their own peril if a natural disaster, drought or other catastrophe should strike their fields.
Therefore craft brewers are dependent on New York crop insurance expansion beyond those four counties.
The breweries are looking to the USDA to help widen the reach of the crop insurance for malt barley in the state. The goal is to make the coverage available in all counties. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer showed his support for this decision in his appearance at 1886 Malt House.
This type of insurance policy helps to offer farmers the reassurance they need that growing a malt barley crop for a craft brewery contract will be worth the risk. It helps them to know that if their crops should fail, they will not have completely lost their investment and will still be able to keep up with the terms of their contract.
The goal of the insurance coverage expansion is, among other things, to support craft brewers and distillers in New York to source 90 percent of their ingredients from malt houses and farms within the state. Locally grown malt barley will play an integral role in ensuring that these small businesses will be able to keep up with the demand for local ingredients.
“Having that crop insurance means our farmers are growing the grain that fuel malt houses, fuel breweries and distilleries,” said Erin Tones, 1886 Malt House marketing and logistics manager. She pointed out that with the expanded New York crop insurance, the craft brewery will be able to offer a product that has been locally made right from its initial ingredients. “It should be important to everyone,” she added.