Agriculture, Food and Beverage

For decades, we have helped these vital industries overcome obstacles and navigate complex regulations to ensure success.

HSE has a long tradition of providing legal services to agricultural, food, and alcohol beverage businesses, including dairy farmers and cooperatives, that have played such a vital role in the agribusiness sector of our regional economy.

Our multidisciplinary team of attorneys provide legal counseling along the entire continuum of agribusiness and beverage, including day-to-day operating issues as well as specialized legal needs impacting providers in the industry including enhancing, protecting, and defending intellectual property.

From the farmlands of our region to the European and Latin American international markets in which some of our local products are sold, the legal services we provide impact a vast array of issues in agricultural production, marketing, and distribution. Whether the issues involve a plot of local land or a legal entanglement in a distant corner of the globe, we are prepared to assist in providing quality counseling to members of an industry that continues to play such a crucial role in our regional economy.

Agribusiness and Food Experience
Our firm provides a comprehensive range of legal services designed to assist clients in the negotiation, implementation, and operation of their business ventures. Matters that we have handled that are unique to the agribusiness industry include:

  • Negotiating and drafting co-packaging agreements with brand warranty and protection provisions, labeling and product regulatory compliance provisions, and appropriate indemnification provisions.
  • Managing food product recalls situations, including dealing with the Food and Drug Administration and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.
  • Negotiating and drafting equipment purchase agreements involving the installation of major production line equipment, addressing ongoing maintenance and service programs, line management issues, and perishability issues. Negotiating and drafting letters of credit with U.S. and foreign banks for the delivery of perishable food products.
  • Structuring, developing, negotiating and drafting agreements for new product development ventures, including technology ventures associated with long shelf-life products.
  • Serving as trademark counsel to multinational food manufacturers and a number of smaller food and beverage companies. Responsible for trademark registrations and applications on behalf of its clients in more than 80 foreign countries, and routinely providing preliminary and comprehensive opinions on the availability of trademarks in the food industry.
  • Negotiating and drafting product supply agreements involving the purchase of ingredients, including commodities.
  • Dealing with agreements involving price protection techniques and hedges for purposes of protecting ingredient and inventory purchases of commodities.
  • Negotiating and drafting agreements with advertising agencies for general advertisements and specific brand development and image development programs, including labeling and “look and feel” matters, and successfully handling disputes between clients and advertising agencies regarding these matters.
  • Developing, structuring, and implementing programs and agreements to secure alternate, less-expensive energy sources for food production operations and facilities.
  • Working with governmental entities on lease/financing programs, as well as matters involving tax abatement, municipal condemnation, Empire Zone benefits and unique aspects of environmental protection associated with requirements for food production facilities.
  • Advising and implementing solutions regarding issues of cooperative ownership and governance.
  • Structuring, advising, negotiating and implementing tax-free combination of cooperative corporations.
  • Negotiating land purchase and facility construction agreements, with environmental approvals for major facilities construction.
  • Advising regarding affirmative action plans, wage and hour regulations, employment law discrimination, retirement plans, executive compensation plans, union grievances and union collective bargaining agreement matters.

Alcohol Beverage Experience
Navigating the federal and state regulations to establish, maintain and grow your brewery, distillery, winery, alcohol beverage distributorship or retail business can be an overwhelming process. Our multidisciplinary team assists clients to streamline the process, identify the proper licensing structure and advise on acceptable trade practices. Specifically, we counsel our clients on matters concerning:

  • Federal and state licensing
  • State franchise protection
  • Trade practice
  • Product labeling
  • Intellectual property protection
  • Advertising and marketing
  • Federal and state excise tax
  • Import and licensing agreements
  • State regulatory and disciplinary proceedings

We provide a comprehensive range of legal services designed to assist clients at every stage of the alcohol beverage business from entity formation to securing and maintaining the proper alcohol beverage licenses from federal and state agencies. We counsel clients ranging from local alcohol licensed retail accounts to national manufacturers and suppliers. Matters that we have handled that are unique to the alcohol beverage industry include:

  • Managing alcohol beverage product recalls, including working with the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”).
  • Negotiating transfer of alcohol beverage brands between distributors.
  • Serving as trademark counsel to national, regional and local alcohol beverage manufacturers. Responsible for domestic and foreign trademark matters, including registration, maintenance, enforcement, advertising, use, and due diligence. Routinely providing preliminary and comprehensive opinions on the availability of trademarks in the alcohol beverage industry.
  • Assisting clients in preparing for TTB audits.
  • Drafting and negotiating contracts for alcohol beverage sponsorships for sporting and non-sporting events.
  • Assisting in drafting, developing and implementing internal corporate policies and practices to ensure company-wide compliance with alcohol beverage regulatory requirements.
  • Preparing and filing applications for federal and state licenses, including manufacturing licenses, retail licenses, solicitor permits, distribution and wholesale licenses, marketing permits and temporary permits.
  • Representing licensees in connection with state liquor authority disciplinary actions.
  • Representing licensed retail clients in connection with ownership disputes, buy-sell agreements, workers compensation issues, tax audits and sales and purchases of licensed retail businesses
  • Assisting property owners and other real property owners with respect to leases for licensed retail locations.
  • Assisting clients with temporary and event-specific licenses.

Our Clients

  • Dairy, agricultural, and livestock farmers
  • Cooperatives – producer, federated, supply and marketing
  • Food and beverage processors and manufacturers
  • Brewers and alcoholic-beverage manufacturers
  • Product development/research groups
  • Banks and other agribusiness lenders
  • Vineyard and orchard owners/operators
  • Wineries
  • Trade associations
  • Commodity traders
  • International agribusiness joint ventures
  • Marketing agencies-in-common

Key Contacts


This website presents only general information not intended as legal advice. Although we encourage calls, letters and emails from prospective clients, please keep in mind that merely contacting Harter Secrest & Emery LLP (HSE) does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Confidential information should not be sent to HSE until you have been notified in writing by HSE that a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Information sent to us before then may not be treated as confidential by HSE or the court.

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