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NY To Spend $6M to Promote Beverage Industry

At the recent New York State Wine, Beer, Spirits and Cider Summit, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the state will pour $6 million into a promotional effort with the intention of raising the profile of the state’s beverage producers.

Glasses were clinked to that – and the fact that the governor underscored his commitment to pass the Craft New York Act. This measure, supported by the State Liquor Authority, would simplify and consolidate distilling manufacturer licenses, as well as increase production limits and reduce fees for licensing required by craft manufacturers. It also aims to widen opportunities for marketing, update laws pertaining to shipping and increase the number of outlets where craft beverages can be sold, served and sampled.

New York City liquor license lawyers applaud ongoing efforts to make it easier for craft beverage producers and distributors to conduct business. In turn, this is good for the state economy as a whole. Undoubtedly, though, these increased opportunities will mean producers and distributors should expect fierce competition. Start-up companies won’t be able to afford mistakes in either the application or maintenance processes.

The plan for the new marketing campaign is to begin with $2 million funneled directly into the industry with $1 million in tourism promotion and $1 million in targeted advertising. On top of that, the Empire State Development is launching a two million grant program that’s going to match up to $2 million in industry contributions for ads and promotional efforts specifically for New York-produced beer, wine, cider and spirits.

Legislative efforts up to this point to bolster the industry have been very successful. The governor’s office reports that just since the beginning of 2011, there has been more than 80 percent growth reported in farm-based beverage licenses.

It’s safe to say now that New York is on the map with award-winning craft wineries and breweries, as well as artisanal cider-makers and distillers, though the process for the latter has moved a bit slower. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was recently quoted as saying that the legislature intends to work more closely with industry stakeholders to improve both the quality and availability of New York-made drinks.

As part of this effort, the State Liquor Authority, alongside a number of other state agencies, is issuing clarification advisories on previous regulations that resulted in confusion. For example, sales of growlers of beer and cider will no longer require unnecessary paperwork and brand label registrations are being streamlined. Farm wineries will no longer be required to obtain a bond. Further, the costs to wholesalers and manufacturers with multiple licenses will be slashed, and they will be permitted to deliver all products in a single shipment. There will also be additional clarification on the state’s roadside farm market law – specifically on how to obtain licenses and which venues are eligible. Finally, the SLA is offering interim licenses to craft breweries in an effort to help them fast-track their operation start dates.

The Department of Agriculture and Markets also announced that it intends to exempt hop producers from food manufacturing licenses for certain processes, which should save them about $400 annually.

Despite these clarifications, the process remains relatively complex. Craft beverage producers and operators would be wise to seek the counsel of an experienced liquor license attorney in New York.

The Wright Law Firm is a business law firm located in Midtown Manhattan. Call (212) 619-1500 for a confidential consultation.

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