Bill allows small beer and wine producers greater access to local markets

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Bill allows small beer and wine producers greater access to local markets

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 5:00pm -- tim

Von Trapp Brewery photo of a flight of beer.

Vermont Business Magazine The House today passed the Beer and Wine Franchise Bill, H.710, on a vote of 124-11. The bill proposes to create an exception to the beer and wine franchise law for manufacturers of malt beverages that manufacture or distribute not more than 300,000 barrels of malt beverages or 100,000 gallons of vinous beverages per year.

Vermont has become one of the world’s most respected destinations for beer tourists. Vermont’s craft beer industry supports nearly 1,900 jobs and provides a growing source of revenue to the state. The new law would strengthen and grow Vermont’s craft beer industry and ensure free and fair competition, which the bill says are in the best interests of the state. Vermont’s vinous beverages industry includes 27 wineries and 23 meaderies, cideries, and fruit wine producers. Together, they employ the equivalent of more than 200 full-time employees and serve over 100,000 visitors annually in their tasting rooms and at events. These manufacturers bolster Vermont’s agricultural economy and working landscape by cultivating hundreds of acres of grapes, apples, fruit trees, and honey. 

In order to give small producers greater access to the marketplace, for a period of five years, for breweries that produce not more than 300,000 barrels of beer per year and wineries that produce not more than 100,000 gallons of wine per year, H710 allows them to terminate their franchise agreements with distributors without cause. This will strengthen the ability of local and regional producers to compete in Vermont and increase the variety and quality of products available to Vermont consumers. 

“This bill is a win for Vermont’s small businesses. In the past few years local and breweries, wineries, and distilleries have become an increasingly important part of Vermont’s economy,” said House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero). “The Vermont craft beer industry alone employs over 1,900 Vermonters, and contributes greatly to the economy. It boosts the agriculture sector, attracts tourists from around the world and provides significant employment opportunities to Vermonters. Supporting these businesses is key to ensuring Vermont retains a competitive tourism industry and remains attractive to entrepreneurs, workers, and families.”

“Vermont craft breweries are the quintessential example of small businesses in the state,” said Representative Heidi Scheuermann (R-Stowe), a sponsor of the bill. “Current law gives a special advantage to the distributors at the expense of these small brewers. This bill will ensure free and fair competition in the craft beer market, allowing businesses to grow and increasing the choices for consumers.”

“It’s time to act and respond to the changing industry of alcoholic beverages,” said Representative Helen Head (D-South Burlington), chair of the House Committee on General, Housing & Military Affairs. “When they were established, the current franchise laws were essential to equalize bargaining power between wholesale distributors and large national breweries. Our brewers and distributors now need changes in the law and more tools to foster balanced growth in a shifting industry landscape.”

Source: Speaker 3.16.2018