TORONTO: The Ontario government is now allowing eligible local brewers to sell their beer at farmers’ markets. Expanding the farmers’ market program to include beer, announced in the 2021 Ontario Budget, is part of the government’s commitment to support brewers, winemakers and distillers working in the province’s alcohol manufacturing industries and to help them respond to the impacts of COVID-19.
“Our government is committed to supporting job growth in communities across Ontario by standing up for our vibrant hospitality, alcohol and agriculture sectors,” said Attorney General Doug Downey.
“Providing local brewers with the opportunity to join wineries, cideries and distillers in selling their products at farmers’ markets is another breakthrough for the many jobs and families that are supported by Ontario’s diverse alcohol manufacturing industry.”
Allowing the sale of locally-made craft beer at farmers’ markets builds on other measures to help businesses respond to COVID-19, including:
• permanently allowing restaurants and bars to sell alcohol with food takeout and delivery orders, including mixed cocktails and growlers
• reducing the minimum price of spirits consumed at licensed establishments to align with the reduced pricing introduced for takeout and delivery orders
• allowing the length of time for temporary patio extensions to be set out by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
• permitting alcohol service on docked boats with a liquor sales licence
• giving licensed establishments and retailers more flexibility in using liquor delivery services “Supporting local business has never been more important and our government is making it convenient for consumers to pair up eligible Ontario craft beer, wine, cider and spirits with all the fresh and delicious food found at farmers’ markets,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Ontario’s local brewers play a key role in Ontario’s agri-food sector, supporting jobs and contributing to local economies across the province,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance.
• Licensed eligible brewers across the province can apply to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) to occasionally extend their onsite stores to sell Ontario beer at farmers’ markets.
• Brewers whose full brewing process takes place in Ontario at their own breweries are permitted to sell their products at farmers markets across the province.
• There are more than 180 farmers’ markets in Ontario.
• The government is committed to upholding the highest standards for social responsibility, including the strong regulatory framework that is in place for alcohol sales, which includes a minimum age to purchase alcohol, mandatory staff training and minimum retail prices.
Scott Simmons, President of Ontario Craft Brewers, said: “COVID-19 hit Ontario’s craft beer sector hard and the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB), the voice of craft brewing in Ontario, sincerely thanks the Ford government for its tireless work to support Ontario’s craft beer sector throughout the pandemic. It has truly been a win-win for craft beer lovers and locally-owned craft breweries alike and we are raising a glass to this important change which has been good for local jobs, good for consumers, and good for our communities.”
Rocco Rossi, President of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, said: “We support the decision. This eliminates disparities at farmers’ markets, brings greater parity across all four categories of beverage alcohol, and creates a competitive beverage alcohol landscape. It also provides craft beer producers and breweries with access to a new sales channel, as well as the opportunity to reach new customers.”