Cit­i­zens sup­port farm brew­ery or­di­nance

Record Observer - - Front Page - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

CENTREVILLE — Com­mis­sioner Mark An­der­son said he in­tro­duced an or­di­nance that would al­low farm brew­eries in ef­fort to of­fer an­other source of in­come for Queen Anne’s County farm­ers.

On Tues­day, Feb. 28, the com­mis­sion heard tes­ti­mony in fa­vor of pass­ing Or­di­nance 16-21 dur­ing a pub­lic hear­ing. Two cit­i­zens, Jay Fal­stad and Nicki Sener, rec­om­mended the com­mis­sion pass the leg­is­la­tion.

By adding farm brew­eries as a per­mit­ted use after amend­ing the term “Agri­cul­ture” in the county code, farm­ers would be able to cre­ate beer from in­gre­di­ents grown and pro­duced on their land.

The added def­i­ni­tion al­lows the oper­a­tions and cre­ation of “fer­ment­ing, dis­till­ing, blend­ing, ag­ing, stor­ing, ad­min­is­tra­tive ac­tiv­i­ties, ware­hous­ing, bot­tling and ship­ping fa­cil­i­ties.”

Farm­ers would be al­lowed to cre­ate tast­ing fa­cil­i­ties and re­tail stores, as well as some planned pro­mo­tional

events, the def­i­ni­tion reads.

In 2012, the state es­tab­lished a Class 8 Farm Brew­ing Li­cense which al­lowed farm­ers to use their land to op­er­ate a small-scale brew­ery. Tak­ing ad­van­tage of that abil­ity, Jay Fal­stad of Cal­ico Fields LLC said he put a new barn on the farm in­tend­ing to use the hops grown on the land to cre­ate a small brew­ing fa­cil­ity.

Fal­stad said one of the ben­e­fits in al­low­ing farm­ers to op­er­ate brew­eries, from the county’s per­spec­tive, is that there is a grow­ing move­ment in agro and eco­tourism, “so it fits in per­fectly for Queen Anne’s County.”

With beer tours ex­pand­ing through­out the United States,

mak­ing the county a des­ti­na­tion rather than a pass-through for those tours would be ben­e­fi­cial.

Sener, from Church Hill who’s fam­ily op­er­ates a farm, spoke in fa­vor of the or­di­nance be­cause she is a self-de­scribed “beer geek.”

Trav­el­ing around the coun­try go­ing to brew­eries in towns and cities, Sener said part of the ap­peal of try­ing all the beers is not to get drunk, but to have ex­pe­ri­ence of tast­ing some­thing that was pro­duced right in front of them.

“I’ve vis­ited many of the farm brew­eries over on the western shore, part of their ap­peal is they’re lo­cal and you’re lit­er­ally sit­ting there on a pic­nic ta­ble out­side in the sum­mer time hav­ing a beer

that was made right where you’re sit­ting,” Sener said. “... You can ac­tu­ally look and see where they’re grown.”

Sener said farm brew­eries and tours are the “in thing right now,” and doesn’t think the move­ment is go­ing any­where.

Com­pa­nies of­fer­ing beer tours that haul drinkers by bus from one lo­ca­tion to the next are pass­ing right over Queen Anne’s County, Sener said, be­cause it doesn’t have much to of­fer. By al­low­ing this us­age, the county could cap­i­tal­ize on lost op­por­tu­ni­ties, she said.

With agri­cul­ture the largest eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment en­gine in the county, An­der­son said it is the com­mis­sion’s mantra to “en­cour-

age the ex­is­tence of farm land in the county, and this is an­other way a farmer can make a dol­lar.”

Jean Fabi, with the county’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment depart­ment, said a per­cent­age of the hops have to be grown on the farm, and that the county would re­ceive sales tax from any pur­chase at the brew­ery.

“Many coun­ties on the Eastern Shore of Mary­land have adopted these laws,” Fabi said. “It’s a way to di­ver­sify your ag oper­a­tions.”

The or­di­nance will be voted on dur­ing the com­mis­sion’s Tues­day, March 21, meet­ing in Centreville.

To view the or­di­nance in its en­tirety, visit www.qac.org.

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @ mike_k­ibay­times.com.

PHOTOS BY MIKE DAVIS

Nicki Sener of Church Hill, a self­pro­claimed “beer geek,” said the county is miss­ing out on tourism op­por­tu­ni­ties, and by pass­ing Or­di­nance 16-21 it could cap­ture part of its lost mar­ket.

Jay Fal­stad, speak­ing on be­half of Cal­ico Fields LLC, strongly rec­om­mended the county com­mis­sion­ers to vote in fa­vor of Or­di­nance 16-21 dur­ing its Tues­day, Feb. 28, meet­ing.

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