Proposal Continues New York's Development of Home Grown Craft Beverage Industry
License Will Spur Increased Demand for New York-Produced Honey
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the FY 2019 Budget includes a proposal to create a license for farm meaderies, a new license similar to those already available to farm wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries. Mead, commonly referred to as "honey wine" is an alcoholic beverage that is created by fermenting honey with water, which can be infused with fruits, spices, herbs and flowers.
"New York is the number one producer of honey in the Northeast, and by increasing opportunities for farms to produce mead, our thriving craft beverage manufacturing sector will continue to grow," Governor Cuomo said. "The creation of the farm meadery license will help strengthen these two great New York industries, and further add to our tourism economy, fueling growth in every corner of this great state."
The farm meadery license will authorize the establishment and licensure of farm meaderies for the manufacture and sale of mead made from New York State produced honey. The provision also allows farm meaderies to produce "braggot," a malt beverage made from honey, in addition to malt, hops, fruits, spices, herbs and other agricultural products. In order to obtain a farm meadery license, the mead or braggot must be made exclusively from honey produced in New York State and no more than 250,000 gallons may be produced annually. Farm meaderies will be allowed to sell by the glass, offer tastings of, and sell to go not only mead and braggot, but also any New York State farm produced beer, wine, cider and spirits.
As with other New York farm licenses, farm meaderies will have the privilege of self-distribution, in addition to the ability to market and sell their products through existing wholesalers. Farm meaderies will also be permitted to open restaurants and gift shops, and have the ability to operate up to five no-fee offsite branch stores anywhere in the state. As with New York manufactured hard cider, New York mead will be sold in both grocery stores as well as liquor and wine stores. The annual cost for the new license is $75. Currently, only farm wineries, which must be located on a farm, and commercial wineries, which cost $3,025 in licensing and bond fees, may produce honey wine.
While the smallest segment of the craft manufacturing industry, mead is also the fastest growing. A 2017 industry report compiled by the American Mead Makers Association found that the number of meaderies in the US increased from just 30 in 2003 to 300 in early 2016. In addition to strengthening New York's thriving craft beverage sector, the creation of a farm meadery license will also further support honey production in New York.
New York remains the number one honey producer in the Northeast, with honey production steadily rising over the past five years. The total value of New York's honey production was nearly $12 million in 2016, growing by over $1 million from the 2015 and increasing by over $6 million from 2011. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, for beekeepers with five or more colonies, New York honey production grew by 33 percent, from 2.74 million pounds in 2011 to 3.65 million pounds in 2016. Additionally, crops such as apples, cherries, blueberries, squash, pumpkins, and others rely heavily on the presence of pollinators, with New York's honeybees pollinating nearly half-a-billion-dollars worth of farm crops each year.
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Thanks to Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State's craft beverage industry is booming. This new license will support job creation and encourage additional growth in the farming, craft beverage and tourism economies."
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "New York State excels at a lot of things—producing honey and craft beverages are two of them. It's a natural fit to bring these industries together. As we've seen with the boom in beer, wine, spirits and cider production, there's a high demand for fresh, top-quality ingredients and producers are finding them at their local farms. Through the launch of farm-based craft beverage manufacturing licenses, Governor Cuomo has helped create a great synergy between growers and manufacturers. This new license will continue to strengthen those connections."
State Liquor Authority Chairman Vincent Bradley said, "Mead is one of the fastest growing segments in the craft beverage industry, and the Governor's proposal of this new license capitalizes on this growth and the increasing demand for locally sourced ingredients. Craft beverage manufacturers and honey producers in New York State will see value added to their businesses, furthering the growth of these bourgeoning industries."
Senator Patty Ritchie, Chair, Committee on Agriculture, said, "Already New York's leading industry, it's these kind of win-win policies that will help grow Agriculture even further. This new license gives our successful honey producers a new market to sell their products and gives our skyrocketing locally made craft beverage industry more options to provide customers looking for exactly that. It will also foster job growth and create a new market for tourism. By developing these opportunities, we are ensuring the future of New York State Agriculture and New York state's economy as a whole."
Senator Rich Funke, Chair, Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation, said, "As Chairman of the Senate Tourism committee I am proud of the work we have done to grow the craft beverage industry here in New York. In fact, 8.3% of all New York State employment is sustained by tourism and in 2016 alone there was a 2.7% growth in traveler spending. Our craft beverage industry plays a significant role in drawing visitors and encourages spending in many other tourism sectors. I am happy to support any proposal that levels the playing field for all emerging craft beverages."
Assemblymember William Magee, Chair, Committee on Agriculture, said, "The farm meadery license will open new and exciting markets for New York beekeepers, making it possible for them to expand into the growing tourism economy and flourishing craft beverage trails."
Assemblymember Daniel J. O'Donnell, Chair, Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development, said, "The creation of a farm meadery license will be an incredible addition to New York's already expansive and well-respected repertoire of farm wines and ciders. As Chair of the Arts and Tourism Committee, I am excited by the economic impact this license will have throughout the state. The production of mead is just one part of the economic increase, as the added incentive to create and expand apiaries will invaluably impact our agricultural production and ecosystem at a time when bees are at risk. I'll raise a glass of mead to that!"
New York Cider Association Executive Director Jennifer Smith said, “New York's leadership in honey production and preeminence in the craft beverage industry converge deliciously in the farm meadery license. The farm cidery license has expanded opportunity for producers and apple growers in New York State, and I look forward to seeing a similar increase in production and value for our state's honey producers.”
Sam Filler, Executive Director, New York Wine & Grape Foundation said, "Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo,New York's craft beverage industry has grown at historic rates, supporting farm wineries, breweries and cideries across the state. With the addition of the new meadery license, the Governor has once again moved barriers to expansion and growth and provided opportunities for this thriving sector to continue to provide the very best craft beverages for both residents and visitors alike."
Paul Leone, Executive Director, New York State Brewers Association said, "Since all craft beverages are agriculturally based, it makes perfect sense to add farm braggot and mead to the growing list of farm based craft beverages in New York State. This not only enhances all current farm based licenses across the state, but gives a boost to a new and rising craft product to further elevate the overall craft beverage industry in our state."
Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State continues to implement legislative and policy changes to capitalize on the soaring consumer demand for locally produced craft beverages and to make it easier to open and run a craft manufacturing business. These improvements include lowering taxes and fees, providing support for research, creating new licenses for farm breweries and cideries, rolling back restrictive regulations, cutting the time it takes to obtain a license in half and overhauling the state's antiquated Alcoholic Beverage Control law. These reforms have led to a 150 percent increase in the number of new farm craft manufacturers since the Governors' first Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit in 2012, growing from 282 licenses in 2012 to 703 today, including 194 farm breweries and 42 farm cideries.