Updated 07/18/2012 03:26 PM
New law to help grow breweries
Craft brewing is one of the fastest growing segments of New York's economy, according to state leaders. But small brewers faced some scary news earlier this year. The State Supreme Court ruled companies would have to pay an excise tax they'd been except from for about 20 years, costing potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees. Now state officials say relief is on the way. Sarah Blazonis has more.
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UTICA, N.Y. -- Governor Cuomo was at the F.X Matt Brewing Company in Utica on Wednesday to sign new legislation aimed at helping small craft breweries like Matt's grow. That law included a provision to ease the burden of that tax that owners of Matt's say would've cost brewers big.
Nick Matt called the news "devastating." March's State Supreme Court ruling would mean an extra $300,000 in taxes and fees would start pouring out of his family's brewery every year.
"It would've forced us and the other small breweries to scale back when we were growing and wanted to continue to grow, when we were hiring workers and wanted to continue to hire workers," Nick Matt sad.
Wednesday, Matt's and the state's 90 other craft brewers got good news. Governor Cuomo signed a law meant to strengthen the craft brewing industry. Part of it includes a tax benefit that should alleviate most of that cost.
"Using these tax credits, brewers will be able to expand their business to ultimately create new, local jobs and put money back into our local economy," Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi said.
Craft brewing brings $200 million to the state economy every year and leaders say this bill will expand that, partly through tourism.
A new Farm Brewery license will let breweries open restaurants and increase tasting.
The governor says the goal is to bring in visitors from out of state to bolster the economy long term. He also says the legislation will benefit one of the state's oldest and biggest industries: Agriculture.
Cuomo said, "You're brewing here, which means you need hops. Agriculture is a major economic force in the state of New York. How do we get the agriculture community to produce hops that's used in brewing?"
One of the things the law is trying to do is get more locally grown products into bottles like this. In order to get one of those Farm Brewery licenses, at least 20 percent of the hops brewers use and 20 percent of all other ingredients that go into their beer will have to be grown in New York State.