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Ohio Craft Brewers band together to launch Brewers Freedom Alliance

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Posted at 6:06 PM, May 25, 2023

CLEVELAND — Today the Ohio Craft Brewers Association officially announced the launch of their new advocacy campaign: Brewers Freedom Alliance. The alliance includes more than 300 brewers from across Ohio, plus their supporters. The alliance wants to reform a law put in place in 1974 that restricts small craft brewers from negotiating with wholesalers, locking them into contracts.

The alliance claims the law allows wholesalers to take advantage of small brewers and keeps customers from having access to local products.

So why should consumers care?

News 5 spoke with John Haggerty, cofounder of Warped Wing Brewing Company, to hear how this law has affected them for years and to listen to why changing this law could benefit brewers and the community.

"So, the wholesalers here in the state of Ohio petitioned the state legislature to enact this franchise law, which basically, for all intents and purposes, binds the manufacturer to the wholesaler. The wholesaler, in essence, owns the rights to sell the brand in the territory that you've assigned them," Haggerty said.

According to Haggerty, the state is the only barrier standing in the way of wholesalers working more hand in hand with craft brewers, and changing this law would open up a door of new opportunities.

"What it does is it allows us to negotiate performance expectations with our wholesale partners, right, and then hold them accountable for that. And so that, in turn, should make it better for not only the breweries but for the consumers as well," Haggerty said.

Haggerty says once this law is changed, the benefits from that would be made apparent almost immediately, not only for the craft beer industry and small businesses but for the local Ohioans who have been a fan of local breweries for a long time.

"We, as craft brewers, for the last several decades have been selling craft beer and more flavorful beer as a notion to the general public. The general public has demanded that from their retailers, and those retailers then demanded it from their wholesalers. And we can't be more excited to start bringing the newest, freshest, and best local products to consumers," Haggerty said.

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