Harry Schumacher of Beer Biz Daily is sounding the alarms in a big way, reporting that a recent court decision in Massachusetts could have grave implications for craft breweries in certain states.
Massachusetts, among others, have laws that favor small breweries in giving tax breaks, etc. that big breweries don’t get because of their size. A court in Massachusetts recently (indirectly) deemed that unconstitutional and Schumacher fears that this legislation could be used in upcoming court cases elsewhere. He summarizes:
“This is a big deal, folks. There are small brewer tax provisions in many states, including AK, IA, KY, MI, MN, MT, NM, OH, NY, PA, TX, RI, WI, according to the Beer Institute’s Brewers’ Almanac. Also, there are about ten states which allow self-distribution based on volume caps, according to the Brewers’ Association.”
NBWA released this statement in mid-January:
“This opinion will put at risk laws designed to encourage the development of small brewers, small vintners and small distillers as well as those designed to ensure that alcohol is effectively regulated.”
As far as I know, the Brewers Association has not come out with a statement on this yet. The association released its monthly legal briefing (which all brewers should be checking out each month) after the Massachusetts opinion so they don’t seem nearly as concerned as Schumacher and NBWA do.
On a side note, in that legal briefing . . . the TTB plans to decide on whether nutrition labels will be mandatory for alcohol labels this year. That will surely be a huge news story later in the year.