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Crop insurance change could boost local distilleries

The rising number of local craft brewers and craft distillers have one thing in common: a need for malted barley. It's hard to get because of rapidly rising demand and because New York farmers are reluctant to grow it since there is no federal crop insurance.

Sen. Charles Schumer says if it can be insured in other states and barley for cattle is insured in New York, malting barley should be insured.

Buffalo Distilling Company owner Andy Wegrzyn says he works closely with farmers.
"We work directly, hand in hand, with farmers and growers. We talk to these people We stop by the farm and pick up our products. Right now, it's face to face. It's a beautiful time to be in this industry," Wegrzyn said.

"The legislation has opened up a window and I think everybody here connected with it, we're jumping through that window."

Schumer says this is all part of beer and liquor being supplied by a whole support structure of farmers providing the malted barley, corn, hops and other supplies needed by company's like Lockhouse Distillery in North Buffalo where he made the announcement. He says it's about jobs and helping farmers survive.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.