Missouri distilleries feeling the financial impact of COVID; turning to Congress for help

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Copper still alembic inside distillery to distill grapes and produce spirits

ST. LOUIS- Missouri distillers have come together and are urging the state’s congressional delegation to help them with economic relief due to COVID-19.

The presidents of the Missouri Craft Distillers Guild and Distilled Spirits Council of the United States asked congressional leaders to work with their colleagues in Washington, D.C. to enact measures that provide liquidity and certainty to distillers who have seen a drop in sales due to the closure of distiller tasting rooms, restaurants, and bars.

The letter also states many distilleries in Missouri have been forced to furlough or lay off employees and some are facing the hard decision of whether to close their doors permanently.

The letter also states that the distilled spirit industry in Missouri had been thriving prior to COVID-19. The industry supported more than 29,000 jobs and brought $2.9 billion in economic activity in 2018.

The leaders suggested the following ways Congress could support recovery of distilleries:

  • Passing the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (S. 362/H.R. 1175), which includes a critical tax cut for craft distillers. Craft distillers in Missouri will face a 400% increase in their federal excise taxes in January 2021 if Congress does not act by year’s end.
  • Supporting the RESTAURANTS Act, which provide grants to eligible establishments for payroll, benefits, mortgage, rent, utilities, and other expenses and is a critical step forward for the recovery of the hospitality industry.  
  • Seeking the suspension of tariffs on distilled spirits. The EU tariffs, which have been in place since June 2018, have had a devasting impact on our American Whiskey exports, including from Missouri distillers, resulting in a 41 percent decline from $757 million (July 2017 to June 2018) to $449 million (August 2019 to July 2020).  The EU may impose new tariffs on other U.S. spirits in the coming weeks if these trade disputes are not resolved soon.

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