Committee clears Dancer bill creating a loan program and tax credits for new vineyards and wineries in five counties

Committee clears Dancer bill creating a loan program and tax credits for new vineyards and wineries in five counties

Ron Dancer

TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly Appropriations Committee approved a bill (A544), sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer, that will establish a loan program and provide tax credits for new vineyards and wineries in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Monmouth and Ocean counties.

“New Jersey’s wine industry is very valuable. It not only supports the state’s economy and jobs, but also tourism,” said Dancer. “It’s smart to encourage the growth of new wineries and vineyards and help existing wineries stay competitive.”

Under the bill, the Economic Development Authority in consultation with the Department of Agriculture will develop a 10-year pilot program to issue low-interest loans to farmers for qualified costs for new vineyards. The costs can include preparing the land for planting, purchasing vines or trees, and equipment and supplies for that purpose. This bill also allows eligible taxpayers to apply for a tax credit against either their Corporation Business Tax or Gross Income Tax liability for 25 percent of the qualified capital expenses for establishing a new vineyard or winery, or capital improvements to an existing vineyard or winery in the eligible counties.

According to a study released by the Garden State Wine Growers Association, New Jersey’s wine industry had a $323 million economic impact on the state in 2016, an increase of nearly 40 percent from 2011. During that same five-year period, the number of wineries in the state increased from 38 to 50. In 2016, wine, grapes and related industries accounted for 1,979 jobs with the majority of the jobs being in the actual wineries and vineyards with an associated payroll of $85.57 million.

The EDA will submit annual reports to the governor and the Legislature summarizing the loan and tax credit programs, including the effectiveness of increasing acreage of commercial vineyards and the number of wineries in the eligible counties.

The bill passed the Senate in 2018 and needs a vote by the fully Assembly before going to the governor.