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Empire Brewing Co. receives $200K USDA grant for farmstead brewery in Cazenovia

Side Hill Farmers, Kriemhild Dairy Farms also receive funding

Empire Brewing Co.’s farmstead brewery in Cazenovia — slated to open in spring 2015 — last week received a federal boost to its ongoing creation with the award of a $200,000 USDA rural development program grant. The money will be used toward the brewing, marketing and bottling of the company’s new line of craft beer containing ingredients from its Cazenovia farm.

“This grant allows us to grow both figuratively and literally. Central New York is our home and we look forward to creating increased opportunity for jobs and quality products,” said Empire Brewing Co. owner and Cazenovia resident David Katleski in a press release. Katleski is also president of the New York State Brewers Association. “Becoming a first-time farmer has its challenges, and to tie farming and agritourism to the Craft Brewing industry is a business model that we are confident the USDA will hold up as an example for others.”

The USDA announced Aug. 19 that it was investing $25 million through its Rural Development's Value-Added Producer Grant program to help 247 agricultural producers nationwide grow their businesses by turning raw commodities into value-added products, expanding marketing opportunities and developing new uses for existing products. The funding was included in the 2014 Farm Bill.

In the case of Empire Brewery, the funding will go toward helping them expand their operation, grow their own hops and bottle their own beer for the first time.

“The craft brew industry is booming in Central New York, and Empire is one of the breweries leading the way. That is why I stood at Empire Brewery in July and pushed for this value-added federal funding,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer on Aug. 20, when he helped announce the USDA grants that will benefit New York state. “Now, with this funding secured, Empire will be able to create its own bottling facility and grow its own hops, allowing it to serve as a prime example for a new brewery business model for operations across the state. This funding will not only allow Empire to increase its ‘farm to bottle’ production, but also create jobs in the region and solidify it as a major economic driver throughout all of Central New York.”

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