Griffo-Brindisi Legislation to Help F.X. Matt and Other Craft Brewers Signed Into Law

August 9, 2012

Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation (S.1315/A.8962) sponsored by State Senator Joseph A. Griffo (R/C/IP-Rome) and Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi (D/WF/IP-Utica) that will give New York’s craft breweries like the F.X. Matt Brewing Company in Utica the means to end unfavorable, exclusive contracts with beer wholesalers.

“This new law will open the market for small brewers like Utica’s F.X. Matt Brewing Company and help them expand,” said Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi (D-Utica). “Small businesses are the engine of the economy here in the Mohawk Valley and across the state, and if the breweries affected by this legislation have the opportunity to terminate unfavorable contracts with wholesalers, it will help them grow their businesses, and create more good paying jobs. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for recognizing the importance the small brewers industry plays in New York State’s economy and for signing this important piece of legislation.”

Senator Joseph A. Griffo (R/C/ IP-Rome) said, “I strongly supported this legislation on behalf of the Matt Brewing Company in Utica, and the other craft brewers in the Central New York region, all of whom are important parts of our regional economy. During difficult economic times, New York State needs to stand by our small businesses in order to grow our economy especially in the upstate region. The growth of small brewers has been an exciting chapter in the 21st Century economy, and this bill is important to help grow our economy and add jobs. Governor Cuomo has seen the Matt success story first hand by coming to Utica, and I appreciate his support for our region.”

In 1996, the Beer Franchise Law strengthened distributing contracts to protect small, family-owned wholesalers from arbitrary termination by large multinational breweries. However, the number of wholesalers has dropped in New York State from 112 in 1996 to fewer than 60 today, Griffo and Brindisi noted.

The two lawmakers say the new law will help the continuing growth by the state’s small independent breweries by allowing them to end costly exclusive contracts with large wholesalers that do not market or promote their brands without having to undertake lengthy legal procedures that may not provide relief.

The new law defines small brewers as those who produce less than 300,000 barrels of beer annually, and whose sales to a wholesaler are three percent or less of a multi-brand beer wholesaler’s annual business. Utica’s Matt Brewing Company is among those producers.

“This new law will significantly help our company and other craft brewers in the state by improving our access to markets,” said Nick Matt, Chairman and CEO of the FX Matt Brewing Company. “It will enable us to grow and add more good-paying jobs, and will strengthen the Mohawk Valley’s economy. I want to thank Senator Griffo and Assemblyman Brindisi for sponsoring this important legislation.”