There is a lot involved in the process of brewing a beer, making cheese or providing healthy meals to students. There is preparation, ingredients — and the government.
In recent years, New York has attempted to ease the burden on craft beverage producers and help promote crops grown by farmers across the state. There has been legislation advanced to achieve these goals. Some changes didn't require a full-blown legislative effort, such as Gov. Andrew Cuomo creating the Taste NY initiative five years ago.
Farm-to-table restaurants, craft breweries, specialty agricultural producers, bakeries, wineries ... Cayuga County has all of them, and in num…
Here are five laws and programs that have boosted New York's food and beverage industry:
(1) Updating state's Alcoholic Beverage Control Law. While Cuomo has successfully advocated for new laws to boost New York's craft beverage production, arguably the biggest changes came in 2016 when he signed legislation to modernize the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control.
The updates mainly focused on regulations affecting beverage producers and fees for craft beverage sellers and wholesalers. There were smaller reforms, too. The new law would allow the sale of wine in growlers, which was prohibited before the change, and allow liquor stores to sell gift bags and wrapping paper to customers.
But the most significant reform was allowing bars and restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages before noon on Sunday. The state's longstanding law was that establishments couldn't sell alcohol before noon. Under the new law, bars and restaurants could begin selling alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sunday. The measure also created a permit that would allow a limited number of bars and restaurants to sell alcohol beginning at 8 a.m. on Sunday.
(2) New York State Grown & Certified. The 2016 state budget included a proposal to establish New York State Grown & Certified, a program that aims to better inform consumers about the foods they are eating. It's also designed to be a food safety program because the program requires producers to meet certain standards in order to receive certification.
Last year, the program expanded to include the state's dairy industry. The label could appear on eggs, milk and other products.
As of last summer, there were 54 fruit and vegetable growers participating in the program.
(3) Creation of farm brewery license. In 2012, Cuomo signed a law establishing a new farm brewery license. The provision served two purposes: Increasing the number of New York-based breweries and ensuring that local farmers benefited from the expansion.
To obtain a farm brewery license, you must agree to brew beer using New York-grown products. The requirements will increase over the next six years. Until the end of this year, at least 20 percent of the hops and 20 percent of other ingredients used by brewers must be grown in New York. Those levels will increase to 60 percent from Jan. 1, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2023.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, at least 90 percent of the hops and 90 percent of other ingredients used by farm brewers must be grown in New York.
In the five years since the creation of the farm brewery license, the State Liquor Authority said 190 farm breweries have opened in New York. There were 46 farm brewery licenses issued in 2017.
(4) Farm-to-school program. As the discussion about the nutritional value of school lunches continues, the state has attempted to do its part to provide healthy meals to students.
The state's farm-to-school law went into effect in 2002, but the program has received a major boost over the last few years. Funding is available to help schools purchase locally grown produce for meals.
So far, the program has been successful. The state Department of Agriculture and Markets, citing the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm to School Census, said 298 school districts — about 43 percent of the districts in New York — participate in the initiative. These districts account for 1,333 schools and 759,024 students.
(5) Taste NY. In 2013, Cuomo launched the Taste NY initiative to promote New York-made beverages and food products. It has become the state's main program to market everything from New York-brewed beer to New York-made cheese.
The initiative is more than just another program with a fancy logo. The state has opened Taste NY stores to sell New York-made food products. There have been partnerships with professional sports teams, including the Auburn Doubledays, to promote New York-made beverages or food products.
New York is building a $10 million heritage center in Auburn. One of the building's features: a Taste NY marketplace.