You may or may not be privy to the maelstrom brewing around craft brewing in our great state of Florida – and if you don’t you’re in good company!
Our newspapers and popular social media (including the big mass-produced-beer distributors) espouse the newest craft brewery openings and local festivals featuring photos of happy, upwardly mobile hipsters with kids in tow enjoying brews hand-crafted from the Tampa Bay area and beyond. It would appear to an outsider that big beer and others support the growth of craft brewing…
Don’t be fooled!
The big beer distributors (especially those “featuring” Belgian owned Anheuser-Busch InBev) pour millions of dollars into Florida’s campaign funds to support the current self-professed “pro-business” (bahahaha!!! NOT!) legislators -dollars intended to PROTECT BIG BUSINESS and kill craft beer in Florida.
All told, there are almost a dozen house and senate bills making their way through the various committees and structures – intending to make sure that the small craft brewer pays the piper (the big beer distributors!) for their own beer that they wish to sell to willing patrons.
One such bill just passed its committee last week on a vote of 8-1 and would require breweries to pay a distributor a 30-40% profit on their own beer (that they bottle or can on premise) before they can sell it to their patrons. It doesn’t even have to leave their refrigerators – and the distributor can actually refuse to allow them to even do the sales in the first place! And this is one of only a dozen pieces of legislation that the distributor’s lobbyists are pushing through in Florida – wait until you hear some of the other ludicrous proposals intended to “protect” and preserve the rights of big beer over the underdog craft brewers!!!
Here’s a recent piece on the situation:
Another great piece written by my colleague Sean Nordquist:
WHAT CAN WE (YOU AND ME AS FLORIDA VOTERS) DO?
The short answer is to TAKE ACTION (and not sit by and watch and say “it doesn’t really affect me…” – small businesses in Florida affect all of us!)
The best course of action for any small business community that isn’t flush with cash (like the big beer distributors are!) is to assemble and support with facts. This isn’t just about greed and bullying anymore, this hits to the very core of the American Dream – that the little guy, the craft brewers in Florida, can make it big – that our small brewers can join the nation and other states that CELEBRATE the growth of a highly innovative and family-friendly industry. Our craft brewing industry is a collaborative small business industry that promotes other small businesses (festivals, community projects, farmers – yes farmers!, food trucks, State Fair, charities, local historical societies and so many others) – AND works together to promote a better Florida. These are the mom-and-pop, bricks-and-mortar, small business at its finest, FLORIDA based businesses that need our support to survive (and thrive!)
Here’s my humble assessment (that I posted on Facebook) about the approach we (as a united group of Florida voters) need to take:
What do YOU think? PLEASE give me guidance (and your email address if you’d like to participate in preparing a position paper to present to the Governor) – our future depends on all of us!