March 19, 2020
Members of the craft distilling community:
As small business owners within the hospitality industry, we know this continues to be a difficult and uncertain time. We’ve heard from you directly—and we know many of you have now made the painful but necessary decision to close your doors to the general public. We know you are brainstorming on how you can both give back to your communities and develop creative interim solutions to keep your independent businesses afloat.
ACSA is here to help you navigate these waters. Below is an overview of how we’re working tirelessly to advocate for you, our community of more than 2,000 independent distilleries.
- We are working closely with our colleagues across beer, wine, spirits and cider to advocate for immediate economic relief on the Hill. We know our industry—a critical part of the hospitality sector—which directly supports agriculture, manufacturing and tourism, faces an uncertain future. Yesterday, we issued a beverage coalition letter to key members of the U.S. Senate and House that called for relief via numerous key initiatives: SBA loan assistance, the creation of an industry stabilization fund, suspension of payroll taxes, expansion of unemployment insurance and permanent relief of the Federal Excise Tax. Read our letters here.
- A poll to our members this week revealed that 75% of distillers are planning to produce a sanitizing solution to arm your communities and our nation’s health professionals. As our nation faces a shortage of hand sanitizer and other sanitizing solutions, we have created a Distillery Solutions task force—chaired by ACSA Past President Mark Shilling—and are working closely with TTB, the FDA and other government agencies to create formal guidelines for these products. Last night, we received input from TTB and drafted interim guidelines here; we are still waiting on final insight from the FDA. We know clear, safe guidelines and federal signoff to produce these products legally is critical, and ACSA is working diligently to unveil these in real time. We also know there are many other areas of concern and have created a COVID-19 ACSA Working Group, to identify and act upon those issues most relevant to you. That effort is being chaired by ACSA Board Member Rebecca Harris.
- We are sharing best practices in real time via a calendar of educational content. On Tuesday, ACSA hosted the first of a lineup of webinars to keep our community informed. The focus on that session—which attracted more than a hundred of distillers—narrowed in on tasting room closures, and subsequent content will follow. In the coming days, ACSA will host an update on economic relief legislation, a discussion on mental health & wellness, and a troubleshooting session on how to drive incremental revenue while your doors are closed to the general public. Please complete the survey which should have hit your inbox yesterday, which will allow you all to weigh on how we can further support and advocate for you.
In addition to the above, we are diligently working to reschedule our annual convention—a cornerstone event we know we all look forward to each year. We appreciate your patience as we provide details on our new dates. Further, we want to continue to encourage you to reach out to let us know how we can help. As the industry’s only not-for-profit trade association exclusively dedicated to supporting our nation’s craft distilling communities, we are here to support you as together we rise to the occasion.
Margie A.S. Lehrman
Chief Executive Officer
American Craft Spirits Association