O'Mara sponsoring legislation to create 'New York Craft Beverage Council'

Thomas F. O'Mara

The Finger Lakes Beer Trail now includes more than 100 breweries and brew pubs, beer stores, tap houses and tasting rooms.

Albany, N.Y., March 28—State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said today that he is co-sponsoring legislation to create a “New York Craft Beverage Council” within the New York State Department of Economic Development in order to ensure the state’s long-term commitment to the ongoing growth and sustainability of the burgeoning craft beverage industry across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, and statewide.

O’Mara has been a strong supporter of numerous regulatory reforms, tax incentives and other initiatives enacted over the past several years which have encouraged the steady and successful expansion of the craft beer industry regionally and statewide.

He said that the proposed New York Craft Beverage Council would help ensure the state’s long-term commitment to keeping the industry strong through ongoing actions and initiatives in consumer awareness, marketing, and regulatory and tax relief.  The  nine-member Council would consist of representatives of a winery, distillery, microbrewery, liquor store, beer distributor, farm distillery, brew pub, restaurant licensed to sell New York craft beverages, and promoter of commercial products.

“The establishment of a permanent New York Craft Beverage Council will help enhance and strengthen the foundations of local agriculture, local business and local tourism,” said O’Mara, who also serves on the Legislature’s joint, bipartisan Commission on Rural Resources.  “It would be a strong move in support of the industry itself as well as to help increase demand for locally grown farm products and expand industry-related economic development and tourism.  It’s a bipartisan effort to recognize a vibrant industry and take an important step toward solidifying the state’s commitment to helping it grow, create more and more jobs, and strengthen other key industries.  The craft beer industry offers unlimited economic spin-off opportunities.”

Late last year a report sponsored by the New York State Brewers Association and the New York Wine and Grape Foundation found that in the three years from 2012 to January 2015, the number of craft breweries statewide more than doubled, from 95 to 207.  The craft beverage industry now accounts for more than 6,500 jobs in New York and has a $3.5 billion economic impact.  Production has surged more than 50 percent to 859,535 barrels. 

The study highlighted that the industry grew by nearly 60 percent between 2013 and 2014 -- and that the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions are now home to more than half of New York’s breweries, brew pubs and related outlets. The Finger Lakes Beer Trail was comprised of 24 breweries in 2011.  It now includes more than 100 breweries and brew pubs, beer stores, tap houses and tasting rooms.  For more information, visit the Finger Lakes Beer Trail at www.fingerlakesbeertrail.com.

O’Mara said that the legislation (S6611/A2305) has bipartisan support in the Legislature, where it’s sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess).  Area Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) is also a co-sponsor in the Assembly.

The legislation is currently in the Senate Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business Committee, and the Economic Development Committee in the Assembly.