Now that the Georgia brewers revolt has been avoided (for now), brewers in Mississippi are taking their turn to try and influence regulators and update antiquated beer distribution rules. A proposal the Mississippi Brewer’s Guild is crafting and will present to its state legislature seeks to achieve a competitive balance between in-state brewers and out-of-state brewers and allow for direct-to-consumer sales.
The proposal from the guild makes that case and asks for other rather basic privileges that brewers in 48 other states enjoy. From The Clarion Ledger:
The proposal being presented by the guild would require out-of-state breweries to pay the same privilege tax as Mississippi breweries, allow limited retail sales at Mississippi breweries, create an excise tax rebate for certain Mississippi breweries and their distributors and expand opportunities for brewpubs.
The guild argues that the change in legislation would enable Mississippi craft breweries to become more competitive and treat certain alcoholic beverage manufactures in a consistent manner while preserving the three-tier distribution system and state franchise laws.
The case the guild is trying to make — that these changes will spur economic growth in the region — is not difficult to make. For one, we refer you to this infographic that summed up the positive economics of the Mississippi brewing industry, courtesy of the Mississippi Brewers Guild:
And although this is a different state, we refer you to this super in-depth economic impact report from Oklahoma because the message can be broadly applied. I mean, geez, consider how underserved this market is in terms of local craft beer:
According to the Mississippi Department of Revenue, approximately 30 million cases of beer are sold in the state each year. Of these 30 million cases, less than 90,000 were manufactured by Mississippi breweries, the guild said in the release.[Matthew McLaughlin, general counsel for the Mississippi Brewers Guild] said Mississippi-made beer accounts for 0.3 percent of beer sold in the state, a number that is “crazy low.”
We might even add an F-word between “crazy” and “low.”
[Mark Henderson, owner of Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company] said his company spends between $10,000 to $50,000 taking new product to market. Sometimes the product is a success and sometimes it’s not, he said. Allowing on-site selling could save Lazy Magnolia and other breweries a costly step in the process to developing and refining products.
Knowing all of this, you’d assume at least one local legislator would jump at the chance to don their white hat, climb atop their steed and champion new legislation that instantly creates jobs, new development and leaves a positive impact on the community. And it’s not even a risk! Sure, wholesalers will probably be annoyed to start off, but after awhile they’ll see how the exploding craft beer industry helps their businesses, too. Everything being proposed is a freaking home run in every other state in the union. All decisions should be this easy. (We also assume for some reason it won’t happen this way, and we are already pre-confused as to why.)