Local radio stations assisting with Canadian wine tax issue

WATERTOWN, NY — This week, local radio stations, 790 WTNY-AM, WCIZ-FM 93.3, and WFRY-FM 97.5, all part of Stephens Media Group, released a 60 second public service announcement to inform their listeners about unfair Canadian taxes on wine, distilled, and beer products produced in New York State.

According to Glenn Curry, general manager at Stephens Media Group in Watertown, the stations felt this was an important issue for our agricultural businesses and was something that needed the attention of listeners. Mr. Curry is hoping that the public service announcement will help build momentum towards a solution proposed by United States Senator Charles Schumer.

Briefly, the issue is Canada and the Province of Ontario place excessive taxes on U.S. wine, liquor and beer products. If Canadians come in to the U.S. to visit local wineries, as an example, purchase wine products, and then try to transport or ship those products back in to Canada, they will face taxes of 40% to 100%.

According to local wineries, this inhibits the millions of Canadians just across the border from visiting wineries and bringing products home.

On the other hand, U.S. citizens can cross into Canada and purchase wine and bring it back into the U.S. and face  only a very small tax on the product, if any tax at all.

Senator Schumer visited Thousand Islands Winery in Alexandria Bay, NY, located next to the Thousand Islands Bridge connecting the United States to Canada, on March 21, 2019, to hold a press conference on the issue. During the conference, Senator Schumer announced that he would be encouraging that the United States, Mexico, Canada (USMCA) trade agreement include language that fixes this problem. A similar issue between California and British Columbia was already addressed in the first draft of the USMCA.

Saturday morning, local winery owner Kyle Hafemann will be a guest on the Home Grown Show on 790 WTNY AM. Mr. Hafemann owns Otter Creek Winery in Philadelphia NY. Home Grown Show hosts Jay Matteson and Al Walts will interview Kyle about the impacts the excessive taxes have on Canadian visitors to local visitors. Kyle is expected to join Jay and Al at 6:30am.

Here is a list of local wineries, distilleries and breweries in Jefferson County:

Coyote Moon Vineyards
Yellow Barn Winery
Venditti Vineyards
Busted Grapes Winery
The Cape Winery
White Caps Winery
Grindstone Island Winery
Northern Flow Winery

Clayton Distillery
Dark Island Spirits
St. Lawrence Spirits

Craft Breweries:
Sackets Harbor Brewing Company
Garland City Beer Works
Boots Brewing Company
Wood Boat Brewery

— Jay M. Matteson Jefferson County Agricultural Coordinator Jefferson County Economic Development