Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) visited Standing Stone Brewing Co. of Ashland, OR on March 30 for a brewery tour and conversation about small farm producer issues. Walden is a fan of small and independent brewers and is a co-sponsor of H.R. 747, the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CMBTRA), the bill whose language was used in the tax bill to recalibrate the federal excise tax for breweries, wineries and distilleries.
During the brewery tour with Standing Stone’s head brewer Larry Chase, Rep Walden exclaimed, “We got excise taxes lowered!”, after seeing a vessel labeled “Tax Determination Tank.” That led to discussion about the background of the CBMTRA and the tax bill and the work needed to make the federal excise tax reduction permanent. They also discussed the House Small Brewers Caucus, which with 237 members is one of the largest special interest Caucuses in Washington, D.C. which Congressman Walden founded with fellow Oregon Representative Peter DeFazio.
On his tour the Congressman learned that Standing Stone Brewing also operates a farm one mile north of the brewpub, which raises cattle and sheep for Standing Stone’s restaurant. Kari Jorgensen, Standing Stone’s farm manager, shared a slide show of the farm while attendees enjoyed samples of “I ♥ Oregon Ale” and “Pomegranate Wheat” fresh from the taps. Kari talked with Rep Walden about the challenges surrounding the USDA requirements of small producers getting their animals to certified slaughter facilities a story that he is hearing from other small farm producers throughout his congressional district.
Brewery tours are in excellent way to meet with your state and federal representatives and show them firsthand what it is like to run a brewery and how legislation impacts small and independent breweries across the country. If you are interested in learning more, the Brewers Association has a dedicated webpage about how you can connect with your elected officials.