New ag loan fund might help lo­cal project

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Paul Post ppost@digitalfirstmedia.com @paul­v­post on Twit­ter

MOREAU, N.Y. » A lo­cal busi­ness­woman says a new state Agri­cul­ture Loan Fund Pro­gram might lower the cost of fi­nanc­ing for her pro­posed $1.5 mil­lion ven­ture.

Rachel Czub hopes to break ground this year on a grain hub called Z-HUB, a first of its kind fa­cil­ity in New York that would give craft brew­ers and dis­til­leries a re­li­able source of high­qual­ity bar­ley and spe­cialty grains.

In De­cem­ber, the project -pro­posed for Old West Road in Moreau -- was awarded $300,000 through the state’s Con­sol­i­dated Fund­ing Ap­pli­ca­tion process. Czub plans to use that money for infrastructure and equip­ment such as grain bins.

Re­cently, the state launched a $10 mil­lion new loan pro­gram specif­i­cally de­signed for small agribusi­ness own­ers. Low-in­ter­est loans from $50,000 to $200,000, from the New York Job De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity, will be dis­trib­uted to ap­proved ap­pli­cants by eight dif­fer­ent re­gional lenders through­out the state.

“This kind of loan would help to off­set the fi­nan­cial bur­den of com­mer­cial loans,” Czub said. “It gives us an op­tion.”

Czub’s fam­ily owns WestWind Ag in Schaghti­coke, which pro­cesses grain for agri­cul­tural clients. Czub plans to copy the busi­ness model and do the same thing for craft bev­er­age clients.

The goal is to pur­chase, process and store bar­ley and sim­i­lar crops from up­state New York farms, and sell them to the brew­eries that need such goods to make beer and ale. The con­nec­tion would help both farms and the state’s fast-grow­ing craft bev­er­age in­dus­try.

The grain hub would be lo­cated on a 350-acre for­mer dairy that Czub’s fam­ily pur­chased in Oc­to­ber 2016. Pre­lim­i­nary site work is un­der way and plans call for de­mol­ish­ing un­needed old build­ings in the near fu­ture.

The first phase will in­volve con­struc­tion of the fa­cil­ity, and the pur­chase and set-up of grain stor­age, clean­ing and pro­cess­ing equip­ment.

“We’re very con­fi­dent we can get at least a por­tion of the project open to lo­cal farm­ers this year,” Czub said.

Plans call for hav­ing the op­er­a­tion fully up and run­ning in 2019.

The new loan pro­gram is de­signed to sup­port a range of agri­cul­tural busi­nesses across New York in­clud­ing pro­ces­sors, food dis­tri­bu­tion com­pa­nies, food ag­gre­ga­tors, craft bev­er­age pro­duc­ers, and food hub par­tic­i­pants.

“All of these small busi­nesses sup­port the growth of the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try and our state’s farm­ers by pro­vid­ing new mar­kets for farm­ers to sell or dis­trib­ute their prod­ucts or by de­vel­op­ing prod­ucts that use lo­cal­ly­grown in­gre­di­ents and crops,” said Adam Ostrowski, Em­pire State De­vel­op­ment spokesman.

Cap­i­tal Re­gion agribusi­nesses in­ter­ested in the pro­gram should con­tact the Hud­son Val­ley Agribusi­ness De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion in Hud­son, or the New York Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, head­quar­tered in Al­bany.

FILE PHOTO

Rachel Czub, right, shown with Saratoga County Pros­per­ity Part­ner­ship of­fi­cial Shelby Schnei­der, could ben­e­fit from the state’s new Agri­cul­tural Loan Fund Pro­gram.

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