Also, New York's maple industry continues to grow.
WILLIAMSON — Sometimes, the federal, state and local government have to step in when it comes to matters of eating and drinking.
Yes, even when it comes to hard apple cider and its impact on the economy of “Apple Country.”
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer visited Wayne County earlier this week to tackle what he called outdated federal regulations that are “taking a bite” out of New York’s apple cider industry.
Schumer, who is Senate minority leader, on Thursday visited DeFisher Fruit Farm’s Rootstock Ciderworks in Williamson to point out a regulatory problem that is costing cideries money.
Federal regulations force cideries to spend extra money for packaging of hard cider with an alcohol by volume of 6.9 percent to 8.5 percent because the product cannot be packaged in 12-ounce cans, like beer and cider with an ABV of less than 6.9 percent.
Instead, the higher alcohol cider has to be packaged in special wine-approved bottles or other containers, which costs more money.
Schumer called on the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau to allow all cider up to 8.5 percent ABV to be packaged in 12-ounce cans.
As part of his visit, Schumer also urged the bureau to reverse a provision in a proposed rule that would mandate the use of the terms “sparkling” or “carbonated” for most of the state’s hard cider products.
Cider “mislabeled” as “carbonated” is too confusing for customers and hurts the state cider industry’s efforts to compete with beer, Schumer said.
Schumer in 2013 introduced the CIDER Act, bipartisan tax legislation that updated definitions for hard apple and pear cider and allowed the alcohol content by volume to increase from 7 percent to 8.5 percent, while being taxed in line with beer rather than higher-taxed wine and champagne.
Rootstock Ciderworks cans its products and owner David DeFisher, in a prepared statement, praised Schumer’s support in addressing a bureaucratic problem that stands in the way of growth of New York cideries.
And cider is big business and growing.
According to statistics provided by Schumer’s office from the New York Cider Association, the state boasts 90 cideries, more than any other state and 300 percent more than five years ago. The industry last year contributed more than $100 million to the state economy.
As many know, Wayne County is New York’s largest apple producer by county. The Finger Lakes region has over 250 apple farms.
Or is it the maple state?
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that maple industry production has increased over the last five years, with the production this year of 806,000 gallons of maple syrup reaching a 74-year record.
To celebrate, Cuomo, a Democrat who is facing a reelection challenge this year from within and outside his party, said the New York State Fair will hold its first-ever Maple Day on Aug. 27.
Think maple cotton candy, maple doughnuts, pancakes and maple syrup, and more, all of which will be available to sample. Cooking demonstrations also are planned at the Wegmans Demonstration Kitchen.
Here are a few more eye-opening statistics:
According to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, New York's maple production constituted about 19 percent of the national total.
The number of maple taps also continues to climb, with more than 2.73 million taps in production in 2018, the highest number of taps since 1943. New York producers also benefited from a long season in 2018, which lasted 52 days, compared to 43 days in 2017.
State of agriculture
Canandaigua town officials also are providing a reminder of the agricultural sector’s responsibility for a significant portion of the state’s economy and how it supports livelihoods in many New York counties, including Ontario County.
The town of Canandaigua Agricultural Advisory Committee and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County will host a workshop on agriculture economic development in the county on Thursday, July 12.
The presentation will review the current state of the agricultural sector in the county and the economic contributions food and agricultural enterprises make to the county. Future agricultural trends, with a focus on local food, present opportunities for municipalities to plan for agricultural growth in an intentional way to achieve community and business development, town officials said.
The presentation is open to the public and will take place at 6 p.m. at the new town highway facility, 5440 Routes 5 and 20 West.