New legislation aims to lower taxes on hard cider

CASTLETON, N.Y. – Seven years ago, Ed Miller, president of Goold Orchards in Castleton, began producing and selling wine to diversify their products and reduce any losses from bad weather years.

As that business has become successful in recent years, a new one is ready to move into the limelight.

“We're getting a lot of people who were asking for hard cider and it seems to be a niche that is growing very well right now,” says Miller.

“Growing well” may be an understatement. Domestic sales of the alcoholic beverage have tripled to more than $600 million in the last 5 years alone. So why don't more local farmers produce hard cider?

“The problem is that the tax, the federal tax, on hard cider is much higher than it ought to be. They tax it as if its champagne or wine, when they really should tax it at the rate they tax beer,” says Senator Chuck Schumer.

But Sen. Schumer has proposed a bill, aptly named the Cider Act that looks to change that.

Senator schumer   “It would basically say that if you have up to 8.5 percent alcohol which is what hard cider does, you get treated like beer,” says Sen. Schumer.

Which would help more local apple growers get into hard cider, and help Miller and Goold Orchards produce more of it.

“It's just been something that seems to have really drawn people out here now that we started doing it and if the taxes are reduced, then maybe we can do more,” says Miller.

And for a farm that last year lost 98 percent of its apple crop, doing more could certainly go a long way.

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