New York State Legislature Passes Direct-to-Consumer Bill

The New York State Distillers Guild and the New York Cider Association are pleased to report that the New York State Legislature passed a bill that will allow their members to safely ship products to adult consumers (A3132-Lupardo/S2852-Skoufis). If enacted, the bill will authorize intrastate shipping as well as interstate shipping to states where direct-to-consumer (DtC) shipping is legal and that have equivalent license classes. The bill now awaits signature by the governor to be enacted into law.

In a survey of NYS Distillers Guild members in April of this year, only half of respondents said they were confident they would still be in business at the end of 2025 absent regulatory or economic changes. The ability to ship their products directly to consumers is overwhelmingly what they said they need.

Distilleries and cideries both had temporary authority to ship DtC during the pandemic, and it allowed both sectors to show it could be done safely. That authority to ship to consumers helped many small craft beverage businesses survive the pandemic.

The vast majority of New York’s distilleries and cideries are too small to be represented in retail stores beyond their immediate vicinity and DtC will help them sell to out-of-town visitors who may not be able to carry a purchase home with them. It will also help those visitors buy more of the products once they return home.

The bill requires several consumer protections, including packaging that clearly identifies the contents, and mandatory adult signature and identification check by the driver upon delivery.  There are already systems in place with the national common carriers to facilitate compliance with this and other rules.

New York wineries have had the ability to ship DtC since 2005, prior to the establishment of the farm distillery and cidery licenses that have enabled the development of those craft beverages in the state.

Once Governor Hochul signs the bill, the State Liquor Authority will issue regulations guaranteeing the safe delivery of these products to consumers through the use of a common carrier like UPS. Amazon will not be involved with the delivery of these products.

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, said, “I have witnessed the remarkable growth of NY’s craft spirits and cider industry since we first established their licenses in 2007 and 2013. Their award-winning products are sought after by people within New York and from around the country. Allowing them to safely and securely ship direct is a way to grow NY’s small business sector, while satisfying consumer demand. If products are not available in local stores, the public has come to expect an on-line option, just like they enjoy with wine purchases.”

Senator James Skoufis said, “New York’s cideries and distilleries sit at the intersection of tourism, agriculture, and small business, and were hit particularly hard by the pandemic. The direct-to-consumer bill offers support for these entrepreneurs – and the thousands of New Yorkers they employ and serve. Despite pushback, I am thrilled truth and rationality won the day. A major boost is coming to these intrepid producers and their customers.”

NYS Distillers Guild President Brian Facquet said, “New York State’s distillers produce some of the highest quality spirits in the world, but many of us lack the financial strength to compete in the global spirits industry. Thanks to the passage by Assemblymember Lupardo and Senator Skoufis of this bill, our craft distilleries will be able to reach their consumers, grow their brands and build New York’s agricultural manufacturing industry.  This bill brings hope and a possibility of a bright future for so many small businesses.”

NYS Distillers Guild Executive Director Teresa Casey said, “When Governor Hochul signs this legislation, it will change the face of the Empire State’s craft beverage sector.  Businesses that are now struggling for lack of access to their markets will be able to send their products to the consumers who want them. These small businesses will be in a position to grow and thrive, and no other small businesses will be hurt, including the retail stores, most of which simply can’t allocate shelf space to our small producers. The Guild is grateful for the support of the bill’s sponsors, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Senator James Skoufis. We also want to thank Senator May and Assemblymembers Stirpe, Fahy, Gunther, Tague, and the many other legislators who have supported this bill. This is a common-sense extension of the farm-celebrating businesses facilitated by the farm beverage licenses.”

New York Cider Association Executive Director Scott Ramsey said, “The potential our NY Cider growers and producers bring to this state’s agricultural and tourism economic landscape is huge. Having the ability to build their businesses and connect with their customers via direct shipment in a safe and meaningful way is critical if we want to see these businesses thrive and their potential fully realized. We have seen the value this has added to our state’s economy from the NY Wine industry for decades and are thrilled to know the vast majority of our legislators support NY Cider and NY Spirits having the same opportunity. Most importantly, this bill will be invaluable for NY’s ownership of the craft beverage sector for all parties involved including retailers and distributors. The New York Cider Association is extremely grateful for the leadership of Assemblywoman Lupardo, Senator Skoufis, along with Senator May and Assemblymembers Fahy, Stirpe and their teams for their unwavering support and their understanding of the value these farmers, growers, and producers bring to NY State. We have seen the same support from Governor Hochul on the value of NY’s craft beverage sector and look forward to her signature on this bill.”

New York Cider Association President Jonathan Oakes, Steampunk Cider said, As a NY Cider producer and a multi-generational apple farmer, I am thrilled to finally have the opportunity to connect directly with our customers. This will not only keep our agriculturally based NY Cider businesses alive but will allow them to thrive. This common sense legislation will allow us to build our brands and bring our full potential to the NY Cider scene and the craft beverage sector. Through this, NY Cider will become more valuable and we will be able to create more demand, therefore bolstering our partners in the retail and distribution space. Being able to build our markets via direct shipment creates an opportunity for us as small agricultural businesses to maintain our leadership status and expand the category of NY Cider into markets that have not existed before. This will encourage travel and tourism and allow us to continue to reach forward and fully embrace our place as The State of Cider. We are incredibly grateful to see the value of our work acknowledged and supported by our legislators in such a powerful way. This will truly impact all corners of the state.”

David Fisher, President of the New York Farm Bureau, said, “We are grateful that lawmakers were successful in giving craft spirit and cider makers the ability to directly ship to their customers. This will create new opportunities for our members to take advantage of interest from tourists and customers who cannot find their favorite local farm beverages in their liquor stores. We are especially grateful to Sen. James Skoufis and Assemblymember Donna Lupardo who carried this across the finish line. It is a new lifeline for many struggling distilleries and cideries, and for the farmers who provide them with their locally grown ingredients.”

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