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Assembly Democratic Bill to Establish Loan Program for N.J. Wineries Goes to Governor

(TRENTON) – Legislation aiming to help New Jersey’s burgeoning winery industry create jobs and economic development received final legislative approval Thursday and now heads to the governor’s desk.

The bill (A-1046) – sponsored by Assembly Democrats, Eric Houghtaling, Vince Mazzeo and Adam Taliaferro – directs the EDA, in consultation with Department of Agriculture, to establish a loan program for certain vineyard and winery capital expenses.

“New Jersey boasts many wonderful wineries that contribute to the economy, and help promote the state’s agricultural industry,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “Ensuring their success benefits the state and our agricultural communities.”

The bill directs the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) to establish, in consultation with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA), a loan program and application process for the purpose of providing loans to eligible vineyards or wineries to pay for qualified capital expenses. The term “qualified capital expenses” is defined in the bill to mean expenditures made by an eligible vineyard or winery to improve or purchase land, and to acquire or modernize infrastructure, machinery, and equipment.

“I am proud to be a sponsor of these bills, which I think will be tremendous for our state’s economy,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “There is so much potential for New Jersey to become the premier winemaking state in the country, and these bills will help us accomplish this goal.”

“These commons sense measures are about wineries and vineyards and helping them stay competitive in a tough industry, but they’re about more than just those benefits,” said Taliaferro (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “This is also about creating jobs and economic development in the agricultural industry and all the businesses that rely on agriculture for success.”

The bill also requires the loans provided under this program are to: (1) be no less than $10,000 and no greater than $100,000, for each eligible vineyard or winery; (2) bear an interest rate between three and five percent; and (3) be repayable over a term of up to 10 years, as determined by the EDA and NJDA. However, a vineyard or winery that plans to use funds from the loan to acquire more real property in order to expand its business is eligible for higher loan amounts with lower interest rates, as determined by the EDA and NJDA.

The bill was approved 75-2-0 by the Assembly Thursday, and 40-0 by the Senate on October 29.