Members of Congress on Monday introduced bipartisan legislation that would allow the United States Postal Service (USPS) to ship alcohol—including distilled spirits—directly to consumers in accordance with state laws.
Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA), and 17 original House co-sponsors introduced the United States Postal Service Shipping Equity Act (H.R. 2517). This bipartisan bill—which now has 44 co-sponsors—would end the Prohibition-era ban that prevents USPS from shipping alcoholic beverages to consumers. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate, as well.
“On behalf of the American Craft Spirits Association, we are pleased to endorse the United States Postal Service Shipping Equity Act,” said Margie A.S. Lehrman, CEO of ACSA. “It is long past time that we bring our laws into the 21st Century for distilled spirits in an effort to better cater to our consumers. More than 2,250 craft distillers nationwide, mostly small businesses, should have the option of using the Postal Service for delivering their products in a safe and responsible manner, just as they are able to using other package delivery services. Consumers should have the option of enjoying American-made craft spirits from all corners of the U.S with the ease with which they shop for other artisanal products. We applaud the work of Congresswoman Speier, Congressman Newhouse and Senator Merkley on this effort.”
“In 2019, California wineries shipped 275.6 million cases of wine, yet consumers and manufacturers are prohibited from using the U.S. Postal Service to ship or deliver these everyday products. In most states, private carriers such as FedEx and UPS are already delivering alcoholic beverages. It makes no sense to create a competitive disadvantage for the USPS by barring them from these kinds of shipments, especially given the Postal Service’s dire financial condition,” Rep. Speier said. “The time is long overdue for Congress to lift this Prohibition-era ban for the benefit of beverage manufacturers, consumers, and our struggling postal service.”
“Currently, the U.S. Postal Service cannot ship beer, wine, or distilled spirits, because of an outdated, Prohibition-era ban. This nonsensical regulation limits shipping options for producers and customers alike, affecting many of Central Washington’s local craft breweries and wineries,” Rep. Newhouse said. “The USPS Shipping Equity Act would give rural producers access to another option for shipping alcoholic beverages, thereby increasing market access and enabling Central Washington businesses to continue to invest in our communities.”
“All American businesses deserve the same access to the U.S. Postal Service when it comes to delivering their products to their consumers—and we all have a vested interest in making sure the USPS thrives,” Sen. Merkley said. “Finally eliminating a Prohibition-era ban on shipping wine, beer, and spirits through the mail will ensure that wineries, breweries, and distillers in Oregon and throughout America have another option to consider when it comes to selling their world-class products, while also helping to boost the competitiveness of the USPS.”
The USPS Shipping Equity Act would allow USPS to ship alcoholic beverages directly from licensed producers and retailers to consumers over the age of 21, in accordance with state and local shipping regulations. The bill will give USPS two years to develop regulations and implement the law, ensuring USPS is ready to safely deliver alcoholic beverages to adult consumers with appropriate identification checks in place.
As the market for direct-to-consumer (DtC) shipping continues to soar, with e-commerce sales expected to top $24 billion, wineries, breweries, and other producers are confined by limited shipping options. The USPS Shipping Equity Act would level the alcohol-shipping playing field and establish a new source of revenue for USPS. This bill would result in tens of millions of dollars in new revenue for the Postal Service in the coming years.
It would also expand access to consumers for direct-to-consumer shipments. While USPS ships to every household in the nation, private carriers do not, especially in many rural areas. Many Americans do not have access to direct-to-consumer alcohol shipments, though they may be legal under their state’s law, because only the Postal Service delivers packages to their door. The current ban is unfair to these consumers.
In addition to ACSA, the bill is endorsed by the American Postal Workers Union, Brewers Association, California State Association of Letter Carriers, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, National Association of Letter Carriers, National Association of Postal Supervisors, National Postal Mail Handlers Union, National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, ReserveBar.com, United Postmasters and Managers of America, and WineAmerica.