It has been quite a year, with many ups and downs. Whether you had the best year of your life or are happy to see 2016 finally come to an end, it’s beneficial to take a look back at the past 12 months and take stock of the events and changes that occurred. In no particular order, here are some of the political issues that have had an impact on small and independent brewers.
50%+ of the U.S. Congress supported the CBMTRA
In 2016, 289 members of the House of Representatives and 52 Senators signed on as sponsors of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, legislation that would lower the federal excise tax for craft brewers and other alcohol producers. The fact that more than 50% of the legislators in the House and Senate supported the bill is a testament to the growing influence of small and independent brewers. Though there was no vehicle for the legislation in 2016, the Brewers Association and other supporters are cautiously optimistic that it will have an opportunity in the 115th Congress.
104 Representatives signed onto the letter to the USDA encouraging them to increase hops research
Spurred by Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Pete DeFazio (D-OR), 104 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter to the USDA asking them to increase research for new varietals of hops that could be grown in varying climates and are resistant to viruses. Congress being proactive on issues that pertain to agriculture and ingredients is something that we hope to see more of in the future.
The AB InBev-SAB Miller merger was approved
The Department of Justice approved Megabrew, the merger between the world’s two largest brewing companies. The Brewers Association was vocal about its concerns about the merger and its potential implications on access to market for small and independent brewers. Also, Members of Congress, including the House Small Brewers Caucus, also sent multiple letters to the DOJ encouraging them to “preserve competition and protect consumers”.
BA representatives testified in front of Congress
Three different Brewers Association members testified on behalf of the association on federal excise taxes, trade, and tax simplification for small businesses. Congress is continuing to learn about the broad range of industries that craft brewing touches. They showed their interest in learning more by inviting brewery owners and employees to speak on the issues that impact small and independent brewers.
Brewery owners got political
Heather Sanborn of Rising Tide Brewing in Portland, Maine was elected to the Maine House of Representatives; 160 brewers climbed the Hill; and multiple breweries hosted congressional visits.
As you can see, the Brewers Association and the craft brewing industry made an impact in Washington, D.C. in 2016. The BA is prepared to work with you to build on that success in 2017. On January 3, the 115th Congress will reconvene, and we will hit the ground running. There will be many opportunities for you to help us make an impact on the Hill. Whether it is through grassroots emails, member visits, or by joining us for the 2017 CBC Hill Climb, I hope you will take an active role as a representative for our industry.
See you all in 2017!