U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is lending a hand to jumpstart the efforts of a not-for-profit cooperative to produce organic hops for New York’s craft breweries. The New York Democrat says he would like to see a site in Dutchess County become a major hop yard.
Schumer dropped by Dutchess Hops, the core of the cooperative, in Lagrangeville on Monday.
He spoke about how New York in the mid-1800s was a leading producer of hops, but fell victim to changes in climate conditions, blight, and:
Patrick Manning, a former Republican state Assemblyman from Dutchess is involved in the cooperative.
Manning, sporting a tie with martini glasses, caught some heat from Schumer, all in jest.
Manning says he’ll grow some hops on his farm, but his primary focus at the moment will be to help get the word out about Hudson Valley Hops.
Christopher Basso is the brewmaster at Newburgh Brewing Company.
Senator Schumer says he has written to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Small Business Administration to request financing for the $100,000 worth of equipment needed, and for the $13 an acre land-preparation cost. He says the money could come from already existing programs.
Then there’s the possibility of a public-private partnership. Sean Eldridge, who has been flirting with a Congressional campaign, is the president of Kingston-based Hudson River Ventures, a small-business investment fund focused on the Hudson Valley.
He says a private-public partnership makes a lot of sense in this case.
And they all, like Schumer, envision a boost to tourism, similar to winery visits and wine trails in various parts of the state.
Justin Riccobono, of Dutchess Hops, says the first season for organic hops at his farm is underway. Seeding has begun, and he hopes to harvest four acres by the end of summer, expanding to 15 acres in 2015.