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More malt barley insurance could help New York's craft beer industry

Payne Horning
New York state officials say malt barley manufacturers, like the 1886 Malt House in Fulton, will be aided with the expansion of crop insurance for the plant.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended malt barley crop insurance to 44 counties in New York state. Before, only four counties in the state had crop insurance for their malt barley -- a key ingredient in the manufacturing of beer.

Those in the industry said that lack of widespread access to insurance has limited the number of farmers who were willing to grow the crop. Malt barley is seen as a risky venture because of its delicate nature and susceptibility to severe weather.

During a stop at the 1886 Malt House in Fulton earlier this year, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said that was in turn slowing down the growth of the state's craft beer industry.

"When I talk to our craft brewers, this is one of the bottlenecks on their growth and on their expansion," Schumer said. "There's a great demand for it."

Schumer says expanding malt barley insurance to more New York farmers will also help breweries comply with a new state law. Beginning in 2019, farm craft breweries will have to increase the amount of ingredients they get from New York farms and that amount will continue to rise with a 90 percent requirement by 2024.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.