The Michigan Craft Beverage Council has opened applications for a new qualified distillers program, as well as for its annual research grant funding.
The new Qualified Distillers Program follows a bill signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in June that cuts the state markup in half for small distillers that source at least 40 percent of their grain from within the state.
“It’s amazing how many distillers and craft beverages producers are using Michigan agriculture already,” Jenelle Jagmin, director of the Michigan Craft Beverage Council at the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD), told MiBiz. “This legislation is really forward-thinking in making sure we continue to invest in that strong ag supply chain.”
Jagmin said the program is a collaboration with MDARD and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. Michigan small distillers can apply to the program for certification, which is the first step in qualifying for the reduced state markup. Once a distiller is certified through the program, MDARD shares the list of certified distillers with the Liquor Control Commission, facilitating the markup reduction.
Distillers are required to recertify each year, with program applications opening July 1. This year’s application was fast-tracked to stay consistent with the desired outcomes of legislation.
Jagmin notes that craft distillers are central to economic and rural development in the communities in which they operate.
“It’s a really exciting opportunity for Michigan to show itself once again as a leader in the agricultural space nationwide,” Jagmin said. “Michigan’s craft beverage landscape is unique in having that agricultural backbone to stand on. What this does is it allows distilleries to make that investment back to a local farmer and their business and create jobs and support communities.”
Applications for the qualified Small Distiller Program close on Sept. 23.
Additionally, the Michigan Craft Beverage Council also opened grant applications for 2023 research grant proposals.
The council has outlined research priorities for the year, which include studying how climate change is affecting Michigan’s craft beverage agricultural supply chain and sustainable craft beverage business development, sustainable water-use and wastewater/process water discharge projects, and increasing use of Michigan agricultural products in craft beverage production, among others.
A research committee within the council determines the priorities for the research grants.
“This past year, we spent additional time and resources to be able to make sure what we want to invest in is really what is needed for the industry right now,” Jagmin said.
Last year, the council awarded $335,000 in grant funds for research ranging from new apple varieties for Michigan hard cider production to an evaluation of a new herbicide for Michigan hops.
All funded research is published on Michigancraftbeverage.com, and researchers bring findings to the industry by publishing it in journals and presenting at conferences for stakeholders to use in growing and processing. While the council has research priorities, it will consider any innovative proposal that has the potential to make an industry-wide effect, according to officials.
The grant proposal application closes on Oct. 13. Awards will be announced in January 2023.
Jagmin notes that both the Qualified Small Distiller Program and the Michigan Craft Beverage Council research grants are emblematic of the various players working in tandem to drive Michigan’s craft beverage industry forward.
“There are some really dynamic, cool people doing very innovative work in our state,” Jagmin said. “Michigan is set up beautifully to excel on an international landscape with our agricultural, manufacturing background and wonderful communities. It’s a perfect melding of different sources that are making this whole industry thrive.”
News coverage in the food/agribusiness section of MiBiz is made possible by advertising support from Dan Vos Construction Company. Dan Vos Construction strives to serve people and to enhance life, while maintaining long-term relationships with customers, sub-contractors and employees. This advertisement has no effect on editorial consideration in MiBiz.