Malt barley is a temperamental little plant. It needs to be brought up in very specific conditions in order to yield a quality beer. Adverse weather can destroy entire harvests, like this past season in Idaho, where heavy rains took 80 percent of their crop.
That’s why Senator Schumer is pushing for insurance for New York malt barley farmers.
“There are just too many obstacles, risk, and cost standing in the way. And our job here will be to get federal crop insurance for malt barley here in New York state, and then malt barley will take off.”
There’s increasing demand for malt barley from microbrewers across western New York, and legislation to encourage makers to use more local ingredients. The hope is that more farmers will plant malt barley once federal insurance assumes some of the risk.
Jeff Tout is a malt barley farmer in Fayette. He says he can see the success his neighbors have had in the wine industry, and it gives him hope.
“We could model our future success and our business model after what’s been a very, very successful grape industry wine model.”
Senator Schumer’s malt barley proposal also calls for greater access to financing for these farmers.