Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) joined in introducing bipartisan legislation on March 9 that would help small American craft brewers grow their businesses and create jobs.
The Brewers Employment and Excise Relief (BEER) Act, led by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and co-sponsored by 15 senators, would reduce the excise tax for small, domestic beer producers to promote growth and job creation within an industry that employs nearly 100,000 people nationwide.
This bill would benefit both small business craft brewers and hop farmers. Washington state has one of the biggest craft brewery industries in the country, with approximately 139 small breweries across the state, including Pyramid Breweries Inc., Elysian Brewing Co., Georgetown Brewing Co., Redhook Ale Brewery, Schooner EXACT Brewing Co., and Mac & Jack's Brewery Inc. Washington also grows the majority of the country's total hop production--77 percent in 2010, according to the Hop Growers of America.
"This bill is a winner for Washington small business jobs and for the Washington agricultural industry," Cantwell said. "Even during these tough economic times, Washington state continues to have a thriving small craft brewing industry that contributes jobs and dollars to our local economy. This bill will build on their success, helping to level the playing field so these small businesses can expand and create jobs in communities across the country."
The BEER Act would reduce the excise tax for small, domestic beer producers from $7 per barrel to $3.50 per barrel on the first 60,000 barrels produced each year. This reduction would provide approximately $19.9 million per year to help strengthen the nation's smallest brewers and support their efforts to maintain and create jobs.
In addition, the legislation would reduce the excise tax from $18 per barrel to $16 per barrel on beer production between 60,000 and 2 million barrels, providing small brewers with an estimated additional $27.1 million per year to grow their businesses and create jobs.
The legislation would also raise the production ceiling that defines a small brewer from two million barrels per year to six million barrels per year to more accurately reflect the state of the industry. Since the small brewer tax rate was established in 1976, the annual production of America's large brewers has grown from approximately 45 million to 105 million barrels while the ceiling defining a small brewer has remained the same.
A March 2010 economic impact study by Dr. John Friedman of Harvard University, which assumed a passage date of Jan. 1, 2010, found that the proposed reduction in the federal excise tax on beer produced by small brewers would increase economic activity by $116 million in 2010 and $734 million over five years.
The same study found that the bill would create 4,200 jobs over the next five years, with 2,700 of those jobs created in the first year and 375 in each subsequent year. The study also listed Washington as one of ten states that would receive the highest impact in terms of increased economic activity and jobs created in the state.