TRENTON, N.J. – A 2014 pilot program that allows wineries on preserved farmlands to host special events is being compromised by a 2017 rule imposing onerous reporting requirements according to Assemblyman Ron Dancer.
Today the Assembly Agriculture Committee approved Dancer’s resolution (ACR117) that declared the 2017 Winery Special Events on Preserved Farmland rule inconsistent with legislative intent.
“We should be protecting farm vineyard jobs and supporting the growth of these wineries, not burdening them with requirements that exceed what is needed and legislated through the pilot program,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “These farm wineries are owned and operated by farmers, not auditors and administrators, forced to comply with submitting information that the agriculture committee is demanding.”
Income from special occasion events cannot exceed 50 percent of the farm’s total annual income under the State Agriculture Development Committee’s rule. Wineries have to submit a detailed certification of income, which requires a fully itemized accounting of winery sales made on and off the licensed premises.
According to the interim report on the pilot program, income from special events ranged from 1 percent to 29 percent of the farms’ total income.
“We need to stop the government overreach. It’s inefficient and it’s bad for business,” said Dancer. “I would like the SADC to adopt a more business-friendly approach. Wineries contribute to the state’s agritourism business and grow the economy.”
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. More than $19 million of that came from tourism.
If the Legislature ultimately passes the resolution, it will be the first step towards invalidating the 2017 rule.