An Update on Massachusetts Small Brewers Legislation
Maybe some of you have seen the local papers lately and read about our small brewers legislation. If not, here is a short synopsis of what the Massachusetts Brewer’s Guild is working on:
Representative Alice Peisch (D) From Wellesley introduced House Bill 2759 for consideration this year. This bill addresses the inequities of the current small brewer/wholesaler relationship and will give small brewers the freedom to market their products through the wholesalers who they feel will do the best job promoting, selling and growing their brands.
Currently in the 3 tier system (brewer, wholesaler and retailer) when a small brewer signs on with a distributor it is essentially for life regardless of the performance of the wholesaler. Conversely the wholesaler can drop a brand at any time. Our legislation will not change the 3 tier system (which we believe in) but will allow small brewers to move between wholesalers in situations where the wholesaler is not living up to the expectations of the brewer. This move will come at a price, “fair market value” which will be agreed upon by the brewer and the wholesaler. If agreement on the “fair market value” can’t be reached there is a provision in the legislation for binding arbitration to settle the dispute. The concept of paying to be released from a current wholesaler to move to another will keep the movement of brands from being arbitrary.
Ultimately, this legislation is not only good for the brewer since they will be able to better grow their brands and businesses which will create jobs, but also the consumer. For brewers that are struggling to see the light of day and not making it to the store shelves with regularity it will give them the opportunity to find a wholesaler that is a better fit for the dynamic of their brand which in turn will give the consumer more choices at the point of sale.
I hope you will support the small brewer’s quest for freedom by reaching out to your State Representative and letting them know that you support the small brewer carve-out in House Bill 2759.
Rob Martin, President
Ipswich Ale Brewery
Massachusetts Brewers Guild