Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Brewers Association, met with U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on small and independent breweries and ways that the federal government can help assist the brewing industry during these difficult times for businesses across the country.
The Brewers Association and the Department of Labor have worked together on many issues, including the alliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which shares information among OSHA personnel and safety and health professionals regarding industry best practices. They also discussed the Brewers Association’s efforts to help ensure that our breweries, their employees, and customers remain safe and healthy by creating the COVID-19 Resource Center and the association’s checklist for reopening breweries. Pease encouraged additional guidance from the government, as well as financial support to meet new health and safety requirements, to help breweries reopening, but stressed that the government strive to not to create any undue burdens on small breweries.
They spoke about the growth of the industry prior to COVID-19 and how at the end of 2019, the Brewers Association estimated that there were more than 8,300 small and independent breweries in the United States, directly employing more than 160,000 workers and accounting for 13.6% of market share. Pease also shared how literally overnight the industry has seen major changes impacting the ways that it does business, how it has adapted, and the areas where breweries need the most help.
Pease also highlighted the information from the association’s second COVID-19 survey, specifically the distressing numbers that more than 50% of respondents think that they would be required to close permanently if the current situation continued for three more months and how the administration and congress can help.
In addition to the meeting with the Depart of Labor, the Brewers Association has been actively advocating with the Treasury Department, Small Business Administration, and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau on a variety of items that will help small and independent breweries, such as changes and additional guidance regarding the Payroll Protection Program; a delay of federal excise taxes through the end of the year; and help on excise taxes on out-of-code beer.