Local jobs, family businesses and consumer choice are on the line here in Kentucky. On Tuesday, Kentucky’s legislature returns to debate a host of important topics including House Bill 168 introduced by Speaker Greg Stumbo. It is an act that will protect our local beer industry, family owned distributors, retailers and local entrepreneurial craft brewers from mega monopolistic brewers expanding in our state.
Following the takeover of Anheuser-Busch by InBev in 2008, the company has sought to expand control of the industry and grow profits by purchasing beer distributorships. That’s a problem especially for local entrepreneurial craft brewers who rely on independent beer distributors to obtain access to market and grow their small, start-up businesses. Mega monopolies like ABInBev only distribute their own product, at the exclusion of new, local brands. That means when ABInBev takes control of a family-owned distributorship, it drops craft beer brands that are not a part of its product line. This already happened in Owensboro where 195 non-ABInBev brands were dropped and now must obtain a new way to access the market. That means less market competition and less selection in the beer aisle for Kentucky’s consumers.
Kentucky’s independent beer distributors employ over 1,520 workers in Kentucky with well-paying jobs that include health benefits. In fact, independent distributors employ more workers than ABInBev does in Louisville. These local distributors reinvest in their communities and employ both organized and unorganized labor.
Members of Kentucky’s local beer industry contribute and serve on charitable boards in cities and towns across the Commonwealth. In the last three years independent distributors have supported over 450 organizations and have donated nearly $2.1 million to charities and community events and organizations. Likewise, Kentucky’s craft brewers contribute to their communities with their great people, products, and entrepreneurial spirit. Local craft brewers use local products and employ local workers who are passionate about making great beer.
HB 168 would level the playing field for the distribution of alcohol so that market competition is healthy and monopolies do not take control. ABInBev is exploiting a loophole to the detriment of Kentucky’s local beer businesses. HB168 will close this loophole and allow in-state and out-of-state brewers the same access to market. The legislation creates even ground for the distribution of beer, wine and distilled spirits. However, mega monopolistic brewers like ABInBev are advocating for unequal treatment so that they can grow their control of the industry and squeeze out small producers.
Most states realize the importance of protecting local jobs and entrepreneurial brewers, which is why they have passed legislation banning large brewers from owning distribution facilities. In fact, seven states including Ohio and Illinois have overwhelmingly passed (695-81) legislation similar to House Bill 168 since 2010. Now it is time for Kentucky to do the same. Call or email your legislator today and ask them to vote ‘Yes’ on House Bill 168.
KEG – Kentuckians for Entrepreneurs and Growth