WILLIAMSON — U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer unveiled a two-pronged plan to boost business, and particularly hard cider sales, at Wayne County’s DeFisher Fruit Farm on Wednesday.
First, Schumer will urge the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to expeditiously approve a pending permit application to allow DeFisher to open a new apple cidery production and bottling operation at its 1-year-old Apple County Spirits distillery.
The DeFisher family — who grow apples, pears, peaches and cherries — opened a distillery in late 2012 to make vodka from their apples as an additional crop-based revenue source. They said Wednesday they need the new federal permit approved soon in order to begin a new hard apple cider production line in 2014.
Schumer also pushed his legislation to allow existing hard apple cider producers to expand their business or for apple and pear growers to add this increasingly popular craft beverage to their product line.
Schumer stated that the alcohol content of hard cider fluctuates due to sugar content, and current law prevents some products from being labeled as hard cider, thus forcing it to be taxed at a higher rate.
"Current federal tax rules make it extremely costly for Rochester and Finger Lakes hard cider producers to make, market and sell this product, which could prevent New York’s hundreds of apple growers and hard cider producers from fully benefiting from stable income," he stated in a release.
Schumer's legislation — dubbed the Cider, Investment & Development through Excise Tax Reduction (CIDER) Act — would change the definition of hard apple and pear cider, increasing their allowed alochol by volume from 7 percent to 8.5 percent. This would allow more products to be labeled — and taxed as — hard cider rather than wine. Currently, they are taxed as wine at above 7 percent alcohol.