PARTICIPATION OF INDUSTRY MEMBERS IN RETAILER ASSOCIATIONS AND
TRADE-BUYER EMPLOYEE ASSOCIATION ACTIVITIES
Producers, Importers, or Wholesalers of Distilled Spirits, Wine
or Malt Beverages and Others Concerned:
PURPOSE. This circular is issued to clarify Industry Circular 76-23
and ATF Ruling 76-23.
Numerous requests from retailer associations and industry members
alike, point out that some confusion still exists relative to
participation by producers, wholesalers and importers in the
activities of retailer associations and trade-buyer employee
associations. In this regard, several retail associations and
industry members have interpreted Industry Circular 76-23 and
ATF Ruling 76-23 as prohibiting outright industry member
participation in such activities.
ATF Industry Circular 76-23 and ATF Ruling 76-23 specifically
held, in part, that "in view of the fact that the benefits
resulting from payments, gifts or services rendered by producers,
importers, or wholesalers to retailer groups or associations or
trade-buyer employee associations flow to individual members
thereof, the Bureau holds that sections 5(b) and (c) of the
Federal Alcohol Administration Act apply not only to transactions
involving individual retailers but also to these practices when
directed towards groups or associations of retailers or trade-
By issuing this position, ATF did not intend to preclude or
prevent legitimate supplier participation in the activities of
retailer associations or trade-buyer employee associations.
The circular did not state that an industry member is prohibited
outright from engaging in these activities. Mere participation
in and of itself is not a violation of the Act.
ATF has received many inquiries on this matter requesting a
specific "yes" or "no" response as to whether or not
participation in such activities would be a violation of the
FAA Act. In responding to these inquiries, we have not given
a "yes" or "no" answer. It is impossible to respond in this form
since we can never determine in advance whether an activity between
a supplier and a retailer association will result in a violation.
We have responded to these inquiries by advising the interested
party that "some degree of risk may be involved if such participation
results in alcoholic beverages being purchased from the participating
industry member to the exclusion, in whole or part, of any such
product sold or offered for sale by other persons in interstate or
Held, while each case must, of course, be governed by its own facts,
it has always been the policy of ATF that mere participation by a
supplier in the activities of retailer associations and trade-buyer
employee associations does not alone constitute a violation of the
Federal Alcohol Administration Act.
Inquiries. Inquiries concerning this circular should refer to its
number and be addressed to the Assistant Director, Regulatory
Enforcement, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 1200
Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20226.