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Hops industry in Yates Co. depends on Farm Bill

U.S. Senator Charles recently joined local Yates County hops farmers to announce a two-pronged plan to help the hops industry grow in Yates County and throughout the Finger Lakes.First, Schumer urged the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide low-cost financing programs that provide start-up capital in the form of loans to small businesses and also to partner with Cornell Cooperative Extensions New York State Hop Program and several regional hops growers led by Climbing Bines in an effort to find federal funding for a $50,000 harvester.Second, Schumer urged passage of the Farm Bill, which passed the Senate last month, and would fund two key provisions to provide aide to hops growers. Schumer noted the first component, the “National Clean Plant Network,” provides hops growers with access to disease free root stock, to prevent the spread of crop disease and invasive species that have plagued hops plants in other states. The second component, the “Specialty Crop Research Initiative,” would allow Cornell Cooperative Extension to continue its New York State Hop program to help current and prospective hop farmers with site selection, improving hops quality to make their crop marketable to brewers, pest management and more. Schumer urged the USDA and SBA to support this industry and highlighted that without passage of the new Farm Bill, the National Clean Plant Network will not be fully funded, and the Specialty Crop Research Initiative would not be funded at all.“The hops industry in the Rochester-Finger Lakes, especially in Yates County, is poised to take root and thrive, and I’m urging the Department of Agriculture and U.S. Small Business Administration to support this resurgence with the necessary capital financing,” said Schumer. “Federal loans and loan guarantees will help grow Finger Lakes hops during a formative time and establish the region as a leading hops producer for craft brewers in New York and other neighboring states. Also the recently-passed, bipartisan Farm Bill has two key provisions that would give meaningful federal assistance to hops growers, so I will keep my foot on the gas to get the House to pass it. New York is home to a burgeoning craft brewing industry, and with the right financing and assistance, we a can grow a local hops industry ready to serve local craft breweries and give a real boost to tourism in the area.”New York State has a long history in hops production. Hops farms bloomed between 1830 and 1849 to the point where New York became the national leader in production. By 1855, the region was raising over three million pounds annually and was responsible for 85 percent of all hops in America. This strength gradually declined due in large part to blight, changing climate conditions, competition from drier states in the Pacific Northwest, and Prohibition. As a result, the bulk of hops production shifted to small farms and home breweries, where it remains today.

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