When Marcos Ribeiro of Shirley bought 20 acres of preserved farmland in Mattituck in 2016, he was excited to start the largest hops farm on Long Island. Seven years later, however, he’s put his Craft Masters Hops Farm up for sale.
“The business plan just didn’t work out,” said Mr. Ribeiro. “We have to move on.”
The problem stems from New York State’s farm-brewer program. Launched in 2012, that program allowed potential brewers to obtain a less costly brewery license in exchange for promoting and supporting locally grown products. It was designed so that the percentage of New York-grown ingredients in beer produced in the state would increase every few years, reaching 90% by Jan. 1, 2024.
Mr. Ribeiro said that although breweries were offered incentives to buy locally, the cost of Long Island-grown hops was too high compared to the low prices for the product from the Pacific Northwest, which produces most of the hops grown in the U.S.
“You can’t blame the brewers for not buying hops at $15 a pound when you can buy it for $6 from Washington,” he said. “Our price point didn’t make sense, but the cost of maintaining the farm was too high to price it cheaper.”
The 20-acre farm is now listed for just under $1.1 million. The property includes 1,200 feet of frontage along County Road 48 in Mattituck and a newly constructed 7,200-square-foot barn for storage of products and farm equipment. Suffolk County preserved this land for agriculture, making it considerably more affordable compared to other farms in the area.
“There is significant capital investment made here, including trellising and other hops-growing infrastructure,” said listing agent Joe DiVello of Albertson Realty. “It’s also just a stone’s throw from the beach.”
Mr. Ribeiro is not worried about his future in farming. He is also the owner of East End Flower Farm in Southold and is currently one of Long Island’s only industrial hemp farmers, which makes him a local pioneer in another agricultural pursuit.
“I’m happy to be one of the first on Long Island,” he said. “I’m excited for what the future has in store.”