Distillers Wrap Up Successful Public Policy Conference
– More than 150 virtual congressional visits held calling for passage of Craft Beverage bill –
WASHINGTON – More than 300 distillers representing 45 states gathered virtually Sept. 15-16 for the distilled spirits industry’s annual Public Policy Conference hosted by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA).
As part of the conference, craft distillers participated in more than 150 virtual congressional visits with their home state legislators to urge passage of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA, S. 362/H.R. 1175).
The legislation, which has 74 sponsors in the U.S. Senate and 346 sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives, makes permanent a federal excise tax reduction on distilled spirits enacted in 2017. Without congressional approval, craft distillers will see a 400 percent increase in their taxes after December 31, 2020.
Distillers also discussed with legislators the severe economic strain many are under due to COVID-19 closures of tasting rooms and tours; the harm that retaliatory tariffs on spirits exports are having on American distillers, large and small; and their serious concerns regarding a federal proposal, unsupported by the science, to halve the U.S. Dietary Guidelines definition of moderate drinking for men to no more than one drink per day.
The two-day conference also featured a series of legislative and regulatory sessions on key state, federal and international issues with DISCUS & ACSA policy teams.
Conference speakers included: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Senate lead sponsor of CBMTRA; Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), CBMTRA Senate lead cosponsor; and Mary Ryan, administrator of the Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau.
“While the look and feel of our conference was very different this year, we made our collective voices heard loud and clear on Capitol Hill,” said Chris Swonger, DISCUS president and CEO. “Distillers shared their personal stories of hardships caused by COVID-19, and urged their members of Congress to make the federal tax cut on spirits permanent so that they have a fighting chance to rebuild. Only then can they get back to growing their small businesses and supporting jobs, tourism and local agriculture.”
“Though this pandemic has hindered our ability to visit our legislators in person to reinforce the urgency of permanent relief, it certainly didn’t prevent us from amplifying our message on The Hill from afar,” added Margie A.S. Lehrman, CEO, ACSA. “Our industry has always been a resilient one, and despite the challenges we face as we crawl back from the pervasive effects of COVID-19, we have rallied together to communicate the urgency of immediate reform to secure the future of our industry.”
The 2020 Public Policy Conference was sponsored by the Wine & Spirits Shippers Association, Fivex5 Solutions, ByQuest and Glencairn.