For the past two weeks Brewers Association staff has been meeting with legislators and congressional staff to talk about the urgent situation that breweries and other small businesses are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In that time a lot has changed, but our requests have remained consistent. We are asking Congress to:
- Provide small brewers with direct monetary relief
- Provide loan deferments with no interest accruals on loans from the SBA from commercial lenders
- Make unemployment insurance available for all temporary laid off or furloughed employees, with no negative impact on employers’ insurance premiums
- Provide paid sick leave for people lacking benefits
- Provide a tax credit for out-of-code beer
- Provide paid quarantine leave for employees of businesses shut down due to quarantine
- Provide a temporary suspension or deferral of federal excise taxes
These requests are as an individual association and with other beverage alcohol producers. You can see those letters here under in the “Legislative Information” heading.
Congress has already passed two pieces of coronavirus legislation, the second of which covers some of the items mentioned above.
That is a start, but it is nowhere close to being enough. The Brewers Association continues to push for immediate relief for breweries through a suspension of Small Business Administration and commercial loans, and forgiveness of grants and small-business loans if they’re used to cover payroll and other business expenses.
Congress has been working on Phase Three, a so-called stimulus bill. The House and the Senate have introduced their own versions of the legislation, both of which include provisions that could positively impact breweries, but negotiations are ongoing and we don’t know what the final piece of legislation will include.
We are making sure Congress knows that breweries don’t have unlimited time to wait for these negotiations. Congress needs to act now to pass legislation that helps the small-business community support their employees and ensures breweries will be able to reopen when the crisis ends.
I wish I had more clarity that I could offer at this time; we will update you as we get more concrete information from Congress. In the meantime, please know this: We hear you. We understand how critical this is and we are advocating for you and your brewing family.
We are all in this together.