For the past few years, the Brewers Association has been encouraging state guilds and brewers across the country to reach out to their members of Congress on a slew of issues that are important to the brewing industry—and your responses have been amazing!
Sometimes we will ask for brewers’ help on an issue that doesn’t directly pertain to legislation and regulation. One example is when the BA encourages you to ask your representative and senators to join the House or Senate Small Brewers Caucuses.
This request might not have immediate tangible results or the same sense of urgency as some of our other requests, so I want to educate you about what the Small Brewers Caucuses do and why they are important to the brewing community.
What exactly is a Caucus? A Congressional Caucus is a group of members of the United States Congress that meets to pursue common legislative objectives. There are multiple types of caucuses. The Small Brewers Caucuses would be defined as “interest group caucuses,” meaning bipartisan groups (including both Democrats and Republicans) that work to promote a common interest. In this case, that interest is the health and success of American craft brewing.
Who is in the Small Brewers Caucus? Chaired in the House by Representatives Pete DeFazio (D-OR) and Mike Kelly (R-PA) and in the Senate by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the Small Brewers Caucuses comprise 152 Representatives and 27 Senators who want to learn about the business of brewing.
What do to the Small Brewers Caucuses do? The goal of the Small Brewers Caucuses is to offer lawmakers the opportunity to learn about the brewing industry. As members of the Small Brewers Caucuses, legislators are invited to briefings on a range of issues such as federal excise taxes, spent grains, working with the TTB, starting and growing a brewery, and more. In addition, members are invited to events where they can meet and mingle with brewers from their own states and across the country.
Is it helpful to American craft brewers? Members of the Small Brewers Caucuses are more educated about the issues that pertain to brewers at state and national levels. They are more likely to visit local breweries when they are in their home state and districts during recess, and are more likely to have a personal relationship with a brewery owner or employee. Lastly, they are more likely to be supportive of legislation that will help your breweries.
What’s in it for them
Why would my legislators want to be part of a Small Brewers Caucus? In 2014, American craft breweries created close to 5,000 additional jobs and had an overall economic impact of $55.7 billion. There are currently more than 3,800 craft breweries in the U.S., with two more opening every day. There isn’t a district or state in the country that doesn’t have a brewery located in it. That means every member of Congress has constituents that are impacted by the brewing industry.
If your legislations aren’t already members of a Small Brewers Caucus, reach out to them and encourage them to join today. The BA already has draft letters for both the House and the Senate that you can customize to suit your needs. Craft brewing is a growing and industry, and your elected representatives should take this opportunity to learn more about how they can help it thrive.