Citizens support farm brewery ordinance
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.
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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.