Recently, the New York State Assembly passed legislation that would lend a hand to small breweries, stimulating growth and their ability to contribute to the local economy. The bill has two objectives: to provide tax relief to small breweries and also to allow farms to grow, brew and sell locally made beer.
"New York's breweries are well on their way to becoming national and even international leaders in producing delicious craft beer," said Assemblyman Sean Ryan. "Their rise means more jobs for New Yorkers when we most desperately need them. The Assembly is doing its part to boost small breweries so they can continue to grow and thrive."
In March, a tax exemption for New York's small breweries that had been in effect since 1989 was ruled improper, thus putting a great strain on the growth of the industry. The new legislation passed by the Assembly will provide tax and fee relief by providing a tax credit or refund of 14 cents per gallon for New York brewers on the first 500,000 gallons produced within the state, and another 4.5 cents-per-gallon credit for the next 15.5 million gallons. In addition, the legislation provides an exemption from the labeling fees imposed on batches of fewer than 1,500 barrels.
"Small breweries are small businesses, and New York has a responsibility to make sure they receive the tax relief they once relied on, so that they can keep their doors open and continue creating jobs," Ryan said.
"When the Shelton Brothers lawsuit led to the rescinding of the tax exemption and label approval fee waiver, New York brewery owners large and small were understandably pretty upset," said Ethan Cox, president of Community Beer Works, located here in Buffalo at 15 Lafayette Avenue. "Thankfully, the New York Brewer's Association and specifically President Dave Katleski were incredibly quick to lobby the Assembly and craft legislation that would restore, in essence, the ability for NYS breweries to grow and foster economic activity in New York. I would like to thank Sean Ryan and the NYS Assembly and Senate for their willingness to support our industry--the reward will be obvious at the taps of our many craft beer bars and retailers."
In addition to the relief legislation, the Assembly passed a farm brewery bill that will allow farms to sell beer and cider to any NYS-licensed wholesaler or retailer. It will also allow them to sell NYS-labeled beer and cider for consumption on and off the premises, and at state fairs, county fairs and farmers markets. Farm breweries will also be permitted to host beer and cider tastings and to manufacture, bottle and sell food products and condiments, beer supplies and accessories, beer-making equipment and souvenirs.
"The farm brewery bill is great news for Western New York farms," Ryan said. "It will allow farm breweries to open and create a new market for beer and cider enthusiasts. It would also give farmers the chance to capitalize on a crop that once reigned supreme in New York: hops. Just as New York has seen success with the wine industry, farm breweries will now be able to brew beer and tap into a whole new industry that is bound to be just as lucrative as our wineries."
To qualify, farms must manufacture, store and sell New York State-labeled beer and/or cider and have an annual production capacity of 60,000 barrels or fewer. Products must be produced using ingredients or apples grown in-state to qualify for the NYS label.
"We are helping create a whole new market for Western New York farms." Ryan added. "This bill will not only boost tourism revenue throughout New York, but it will also keep our farms - the backbone of the state's agricultural industry - viable."