U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer Calls for Expanded Crop Insurance for Barley- Assist Craft Brewers in New York

An Associated Press article from earlier this week reported that, “Sen. Charles Schumer [D., N.Y.] is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make crop insurance for malt barley available to more New York farmers to help the craft brewing industry in the state.”

The AP article explained that, “New York’s farm and craft breweries need state-grown malt barley to make their beer, but many farmers are unwilling to plant it because it’s prone to losses from severe weather and disease.

Schumer says more farmers would take the risk if they had access to federal crop insurance like growers do in other states. Right now, the insurance is available in only four New York counties.”

A related news update from Sen. Schumer pointed out that, “Schumer explained that there is currently a need for increased malt barley production throughout New York State as a result of its burgeoning craft brewing industry. Alongside water, yeast and hops, barley is one of the major components of beer and of many spirits produced by distilleries. Malt consists of barley that is germinated and then dried under highly controlled conditions. These conditions help to release the enzymes needed to convert the barley starches into sugars. These sugars are then fed to yeast through the process of fermentation, which ultimately creates the final product, alcohol. Schumer explained that many Central New York farmers are beginning to grow this barley, which they then often provide to malt houses like 1866 Malt House. These malt houses take the barley seed grains and put them through the process of malting; this is so the barley seeds can begin to germinate and thus convert the starches into sugars. This malt barley is then given to brewers and distillers who have the yeast and fermentation conditions needed to make beer and spirits.

“Schumer noted that the craft beer industry has been growing throughout New York State over the past few years and in the Central New York. This growth has increased the need for local ingredients, like hops and malt barley. The hops industry has already taken off, however hops are needed in much smaller quantities than malt barley. For example, to make a typical half-keg worth of beer (15.5 gallons) less than five pounds of hops would be required. Conversely, the amount of malt barley needed ranges from 35-50 pounds. As a result, New York State will need more farmers to grow barley and more malt houses to convert that barley into malt if the suppliers are to keep up with the industry needs.”

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