Collin Castore of Seventh Son Brewing and Antiques on High in Columbus, Ohio participated in a House Small Business Committee hearing, “How COVID-19 is Impacting Small Businesses Across the Food System” on Wednesday, September 30.
The hearing gave members of Congress a chance to hear about the role of small businesses within our food production, distribution, and retail systems, the challenges they are facing, and how federal programs are addressing these challenges.
Speaking on behalf of the Brewers Association and the Ohio Craft Brewers Association, Castore spoke about the impacts that COVID-19 has had on small and independent breweries across the country. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, breweries have been facing challenges ranging from the closure of tasting rooms to the emerging aluminum can and carbon dioxide shortages.
In his testimony he shared how the closing of tasting rooms and on-premise locations like bars and restaurants has caused breweries across the country to lose upwards of 30% of their revenue and dispose of more than $900 million of beer.
Castore acknowledged that retailers have seen an increase in beer sales, but that even for breweries like his that have a canning line and retail relationships in place, it is barely enough to keep their head above water. He also expressed concern about what would happen if he is no longer able to get the materials he needs due to the growing supply for packaging materials both in and outside the industry that has resulted in a shortage of aluminum cans in the United States.
Castore encouraged the members of Congress in attendance to work together to find solutions that help small businesses like his, who have a broad effect on the agriculture producers, manufacturers, and retailers in their supply chain. He asked them to offer alcohol producers certainty by passing the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (HR 1175/S.362) and make the federal excise tax rates permanent, provide a one-time tax credit to breweries who had to dispose of beer due to COVID-19, and give breweries that are struggling due to lost revenue relief by encouraging a second round of loans through the Payroll Protection Program and grants through the RESTAURANTS Act.