Norway’s farmer-friendly Center Party (Senterpartiet, Sp) has decided to try to get its other government partners to allow sales of alcoholic beverages, including spirits, straight off the farms that produce them.
Selling wine, cider, apple liqueur and apple brandy direct from the farm has become an important issue for the agrarian Center Party, which derives most all of its support from the country’s rural districts. Local fruit- and berry growers in Norway have been prevented by strict regulations from selling alcoholic drinks based on their own produce, and they want the business.
The government has proposed allowing the sale of beverages containing up to 4.7 per cent alcohol. Agriculture Minister Lars Peder Brekk from the Center Party wants to extend the legislation to include stronger products.
“Promoting local food and beverage production made from locally grown produce, is important for both agriculture, tourism and for maintaining viable rural communities throughout Norway,” Brekk told newspaper Aftenposten.
Brekk sees a future in which visitors to a farm or micro-brewery can both sample the wares, as is the case today, and also buy limited quantities of the local spirits to take home. He has support from at least one of the opposition parties in Parliament, Venstre (The Liberal Party).
Finland already allows this kind of direct sale. Sweden’s agriculture minister, Eskil Erlandsson, is talking with his Norwegian counterpart Brekk about introducing similar rules. Finland, Sweden and Norway all have state liquor monopolies, whose purpose it is to regulate and limit the consumption of alcohol. All three countries want to avoid falling foul of EU and EEA competition rules, which are generally opposed to trusts and monopolies, in order to maintain control over alcohol sales to the public.