Texas Distillers Urge Congress to Provide Economic Relief to Craft Distilleries Amid COVID-19 Crisis

May 28th, 2020
WASHINGTON — In a letter sent yesterday to the Texas congressional delegation, trade associations representing the more than 160 distillers throughout the state urged Congress to provide additional economic relief to distilleries facing enormous financial hardship due to the impact of COVID-19.  The letter was signed by the presidents of the Texas Distilled Spirits Association (TDSA), the Texas Whiskey Association (TXWA) and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. (Click here to view the letter)

In the letter, the association presidents noted that Texas’ distilled spirits industry had been thriving prior to COVID-19, supporting over 89,000 Texas jobs and $8.4 billion in economic activity in 2018.

“As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, many distilleries in Texas have been forced to furlough or lay off employees. Absent additional relief, some distilleries will be faced with the tough decision to permanently close their doors, thus affecting their farmer suppliers and others throughout the hospitality and tourism industries,” the industry leaders stated.

They urged Congress to act swiftly to enact further measures that provide liquidity and certainty to distillers who have seen sudden and steep declines in sales with the closure of distillery tasting rooms, restaurants and bars, as well as retail outlets in certain areas and airports.  

According to a survey of TXWA and TDSA members, Texas distillery revenues have decreased 60%-90% (62% on average) since March.

“The distilled spirits industry is uniquely positioned at the nexus of the hospitality, agriculture, retail, and tourism industries. The livelihoods of farmers, glass bottle makers, truck drivers, warehouse workers, and countless others connected to the hospitality and tourism industry are compromised by the challenges confronting the distilled spirits industry,” they said.  

In the letter, the association heads urged Congress to include five critical components to aid distillers as part of any additional economic relief package including:

  • Provide Federal Excise Tax Relief   
  • Defer Federal Excise Taxes 
  • Seek the Suspension of Tariffs on Distilled Spirits  
  • Create an Industry Stabilization Fund  
  • Continue Robustly Funding No- and Low-Interest Loan Assistance   

“We are proud that over 53 small, medium and large distilleries across the Lone Star State are also doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by transitioning to produce hand sanitizer, but they will continue to need the help and support of Congress for months to come,” they added.

In Texas, more than two million gallons of hand sanitizer have been produced by Texas Distillers.  More than $10 million worth of hand sanitizer has been donated to Texas first responders, including hundreds of different law enforcement, Fire/EMS, hospitals, & eldercare organizations.

The letter was signed by Mike Cameron, President of the Texas Distilled Spirits Association; Spencer Whelan, Executive Director of Texas Whiskey Association; and Chris Swonger, President & CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.