After attempts to negotiate a deal with Ohio beer wholesalers, the Ohio Craft Brewers Association has introduced legislation to reform strict franchise laws in the state. The bill would exempt beer manufacturers that produce less than 250,000 barrels of beer a year from the Ohio Alcohol Franchise Law.
SB 138, The Ohio Craft Brewer Freedom Act, was introduced by Senator Andrew Brenner and will provide small breweries the freedom to negotiate fair and enforceable distribution contracts with their wholesale partners without interference from the state.
“Very few people in Ohio right now know that franchise law exists or how it impacts craft brewers. Because of this outdated law, we have no negotiating power, no recourse and no way out of unfair contracts. Our Brewers Freedom Alliance is working to change that,” says Mary MacDonald, executive director of the OCBA. “We are appreciative that Senator Brenner and other Ohio lawmakers have heard our pleas for relief and are now taking action.”
Like many states, Ohio passed franchise laws during the 1960’s and 70’s to protect beer wholesalers from unfair termination by large brewers. But since the craft brewery movement, small brewers have been locked into contracts with their distributors that are almost impossible to terminate for any reason.
Ohio is home to more than 430 independently owned craft breweries. The OCBA has formed the Brewers Freedom Alliance which is a coalition of organizations, business interests and consumers to help support the franchise reform effort.