Sponsors Aim to Aid Vineyards and Wineries in New Jersey
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Eric Houghtaling and Bob Andrzejczak to require the Economic Development Authority (EDA), in consultation with the Department of Agriculture, to establish loan program for certain vineyard and winery capital expenses was released by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee on Thursday.
The bill (A-4274) would specifically require the EDA with the Department of Agriculture to create a loan program and application process for the purpose of providing loans to eligible vineyards or wineries to pay for “qualified capital expenses” as defined in the bill.
“The wine industry in New Jersey is growing,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth County). “The more support we can provide, the more we can ensure that these are successful ventures.”
“A successful new winery or vineyard means a new contributor to the state’s economy,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland). “This legislation provides another avenue for wineries and vineyards to pursue the capital they need to start their business.”
The loan amount is to be less than $10,000 and no greater than $100,000 to each eligible vineyard or winery, bear a rate of interest between three and five percent, and be payable over a term of up to ten years, as determined by the authority and department.
A new vineyard or winery or an existing winery or vineyard that plans to use funds from the prospective loans to acquire more property in order to expand its business is to be eligible for higher loan amounts with lower interest rates as determined by the authority and department.
Under the bill, “vineyard” means agricultural lands located in the state consisting of at least one contiguous acre dedicated to the growing of grapes or other fruit that are used or are intended to be used in the production of wine by a winery as well as any other plants or other improvements located thereon. “Winery” means a commercial farm where the owner or operator of the commercial farm has been issued and is operating in compliance with a plenary winery license or farm winery license under current law.
The bill will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.