Darke County Farm Bureau member Greg McGlinch testified today in favor of a bill that would help grow Ohio’s distillery business and provide more economical opportunities for farmers.
House Bill 351 would allow distilleries to sell full-size drinks and food on-site, which is similar to what is currently done with wineries and breweries. It also would increase the annual production limit of craft spirits from less than 10,000 gallons to less than 200,000 gallons.
In his testimony, McGlinch of Versailles described how economically beneficial it is for him to sell high quality corn, wheat and cereal rye to local distilleries, including Indian Creek Distillery in Dayton and Watershed Distillery in Columbus.
“The distilleries’ ability to source local grains from family farms, like ours, can keep the next generation farms viable,” he said. “Economically, this gives family farming operations another opportunity to develop a niche market, allowing them to generate another revenue stream for their agricultural commodities.”
McGlinch also said having a market for cover crops such as cereal rye helps encourage farmers to put in cover crops.
“In recent years, Ohio has seen a decline in the number of acres planted to small grains like wheat and cereal rye. These crops offer many environmental benefits through reduced soil erosion, retaining nutrients and increased biodiversity on the landscape. Increased use of small grains by Ohio distilleries has great economic value, as well as environmental benefits.”
Ohio Farm Bureau also submitted testimony in favor of HB 351. OFBF supports businesses that produce value-added products from locally grown agricultural commodities.
“This legislation will eliminate many hurdles craft distilleries in Ohio currently face that inhibit their ability to grow and compete with those in other states. Specifically it will update Ohio’s restrictive production quota and create an important marketing tool by allowing distilleries to offer by-the-glass sales at their production facilities,” OFBF said in its written comments. “House Bill 351 makes good economic sense for our industry and all of Ohio.”
Steve Maurer, state executive director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, also testified in favor of the bill, calling it a “common sense issue.”