Buying local could save money for breweries and wineries

Lawmakers are looking to encourage beer and wine producers to buy local products with a tax break.

The beer and wine business is booming in northern Michigan. Lawmakers are looking to encourage producers to buy local products using a tax break with the Michigan Farm to Glass bill.

It was introduced at the beginning of this month. Lawmakers are focusing on small businesses that produce beer, wine and mead.

â??20 years ago it was not legal to have microbreweries and brew pubs... we didn't have anything here in the state of Michigan which would encourage the local producers to source locally,â?? said Michigan State Democratic Representative Douglas Geiss from Taylor.

The new bill is already picking up steam from lawmakers, such as Michigan State Republican Representative Wayne Schmidt.

â??He asked me one simple question. â??Is this good for the businesses in my area; the wineries and microbreweriesâ?? and I said yes and when he asked is this good for my local farmers I said yes and he said 'where can I sign?â??â??

The plan is to give tax credit to brewers if 20% of the hops used in their beer are grown in Michigan. Other alcoholic beverage producers will get the credit if 40% of crops from Michigan are used.

â??I like the fact that this kind of initiative validates what's really my gut philosophy, which is to support my community,â?? said Pete Kirkwood, founder at The Workshop Brewing Company.

For the first 500,000 gallons produced an eight cent tax credit will be available. For every 14.5 million gallons after that, producers will see a four cent credit.

â??We've been watching particularly in New York where they have an active wine industry and brewing industry and small distillery industry where that kind of tax relief was given for home grown products. So it's time to look at doing the same here in Michigan,â?? said Don Coe, Black Star Farms Managing Partner.

Representative Geiss says the bill still needs to go through the House and Senate. He's hoping the bill will pass by the end of this year.

According to the Michigan Brewers Guild, Michigan's brewing industry contributes more than $133 million to the economy.