Craft brewers call for Nebraska policy changes

Photo: Courtesy Brewers Association

Photo: Courtesy Brewers Association

By Mary Rezac, Nebraska News Service
LINCOLN–Craft brewers proposed changes to tax and distribution policies at a hearing Friday that they say would help modernize and expand the industry in Nebraska.
Proposed by Sen. Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids, LR 175 called for a study of policies to reduce high excise taxes on craft beer and allow for regulation of self-distribution of craft beer in the state of Nebraska. Several brewers supported the changes at the hearing, saying they would make the business in Nebraska more competitive.
“Beer is the alcoholic beverage of choice in Nebraska,” said Matt Stinchfield of Ploughshare Brewery in Lincoln. “Yet our state excise tax [on craft beers] is so high that it incentivizes selling in other states over our own.”
Proponents of the bill also argued that third party distributors are just another obstacle in the way of a business that could contribute much to tourism and local economic growth.
“My product might have to travel 130 miles to a distributor in order to reach a retailer right across the street from me,” said Caleb Pollard of Scratchtown Brewing Co. in Ord.
Nebraska has 20 established craft breweries with 14 more in the planning stages. A craft brewery is defined by Nebraska law as producing 20,000 barrels of beer or less per year.
Proposed legislation stemming from the interim study could be taken up when Nebraska lawmakers reconvene for their 60-day session on Jan. 8.
Contact Mary Rezac at nns.mrezac@gmail.com.
Craft Brewing Facts*
  • Craft brewers currently provide an estimated 108,440 jobs in the U.S., including serving staff in brewpubs.
  • Growth of the craft brewing industry in 2012 was 15% by volume and 17% by dollars compared to growth in 2011 of 13% by volume and 15% by dollars.
  • Craft brewers sold an estimated 13,235,917 barrels* of beer in 2012, up from 11,467,337 in 2011.
  • The craft brewing sales share in 2012 was 6.5% by volume and 10.2% by dollars.
  • Craft brewer retail dollar value in 2012 was an estimated $10.2 billion, up from $8.7 billion in 2011.
  • As of March 18, 2013, the Brewers Association is aware of 409 brewery openings in 2012 (310 microbreweries and 99 brewpubs) and 43 brewery closings (18 microbreweries and 25 brewpubs).
  • 2,347 craft breweries operated for some or all of 2012, comprised of 1,132 brewpubs, 1,118 microbreweries and 97 regional craft breweries.

                                                                                                                                                               *Craft Brewing Association

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