From Kentuckians for Entrepreneurs and Growth, a coalition of craft brewers, retailers and smaller beer distributors.
House Bill 168, introduced by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, 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 and grow profits by purchasing beer distributorships. That's a problem especially for entrepreneurial craft brewers who rely on independent beer distributors to obtain access to markets.
Mega monopolies like AB-InBev only distribute their own product, at the exclusion of new, local brands. That means when it takes control of a family-owned distributorship, it drops craft beer brands that are not a part of its product line.
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This already happened in Owensboro where 195 non-AB-InBev brands were dropped. 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 with well-paying jobs that include health benefits. In fact, independent distributors employ more workers than AB-InBev 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 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. 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. It will close a loophole in the law 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 advocate 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. Seven states, including Ohio and Illinois, have overwhelmingly passed similar legislation since 2010.
Now it is time for Kentucky to do the same. Call or email legislators and ask them to vote yes on HB 168.