Schumer wants more alcohol inspectors to help upstate distilleries

May 19, 2015

Senator Chuck Schumer and Black Button Distilling Founder Jason Barrett in Rochester.

Senator Chuck Schumer is pushing to reverse job cuts in the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB. The bureau has cut their number of alcohol inspectors by 10%, and Schumer says these cuts have a direct effect on the small businesses that make up an expanding craft distillery and brewing industry throughout New York State.

"At a time when this industry is growing, they are actually being cut back."

TTB is a bureau of the US Treasury. They're responsible for screening applications for production licenses, recipes, and labels, among other things. Schumer puts current wait times for basic approvals like a Distilled Spirits Surety Bond at 200 days.

Rochester's own Black Button Distillery has experienced these setbacks. Their plans to expand business by opening a new warehouse were put on hold for months while they awaited approval for a bond. Their application was so out of date by the time it was reviewed that TTB threatened to shut them down.

Schumer says more inspectors would prevent these time lapses. He's pushing to reverse the 10% cuts in inspector staff.

"That would add about 50 new inspectors and cost about $10 million."

Schumer says supporting the craft industry makes sense because it helps the local economy.

"It's also a source of local jobs and our urban revitalization effort, because people come to the breweries. They come to the distilleries. You come here on a Friday evening, it's loaded with people."

Schumer says finding money in the budget for more inspectors should not be an issue because it is a relatively small amount of money compared to other federal projects.