Lead Sponsors: Senator Jamie Eldridge and Representative Jennifer Benson
Summary: This bill would update the farm winery legislation passed as part of “An Act Relative to Economic Development Reorganization” in 2010 to also allow a farmer brewer to obtain a license from the local licensing authority to sell beer at indoor or outdoor agriculture events such as fairs or recognized farmers’ markets. As has been proven by the farm-winery legislation, giving farmer brewers new opportunities to sell their beers at farmers’ markets will help them expand the markets for their beverages, increase their sales, grow their businesses and ultimately benefit the Commonwealth.
Why This Matters: Since emerging from the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, Massachusetts continues to prioritize the economic development of the entire Commonwealth. With this larger issue in mind, we have the opportunity to foster the growth of local businesses and farms with the Farmer Breweries bill. The recent success of “An Act Relative to Economic Development Reorganization” has shown a 66% average increase in overall sales per winery, as well as increased visitation and recognition of wineries. Extending farmer breweries the opportunity to sell their beers at farmers’ markets, would increase the attendance of local farmers’ markets as well as provide more brand recognition and sales for farmer-breweries.
What this Bill Would Do: This bill would allow for the local licensing authority to authorize a farmer brewery to sell beer at an indoor or outdoor agricultural event, such as farmer’s markets. The production of each licensed farmer-brewery is not to exceed six million barrels of malt beverages.
Applicants for a special license need to submit a plan to the Department of Agricultural Resources and fulfill the criteria set forth in the bill. The Department will review the plan and consider factors of logistics, eligibility, as well as the focus on local agricultural products grown or produced within the market area.
The bill would also create an advisory committee consisting of 12 members that will conduct evaluations of the production of farmer-breweries and make recommendations to state officials. This advisory committee will study and develop standards of farmer-breweries and advance the goal of encouraging the use of locally grown ingredients for beer.
View the full text of the bill and track its history here.