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Beer distributor group now opposes bill that brewers say will hurt business

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beer-industry-of-florida-logoIn a reversal of sorts, the Beer Industry of Florida, a trade group representing primarily MillerCoors distributors, now opposes a bill in the Florida Senate that small brewers say would hurt their business.

The bill (SB 1714) would require brewers to buy back their bottled products to sell once the breweries reach a certain size. Brewers converged on Tallahassee this week, telling senators that this new retail restriction would thwart their industry's development. The bill is moving toward a vote on the Senate floor. A similar measure in the House (HB 1329) remains in a subcommittee, so it appears unlikely that the controversial measure will become law.

Another group, the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, supports the current measure. The FBWA represents primarily Anheuser-Busch distributors.

In a statment, BIF president Eric Criss says SB 1714 "would virtually eliminate retail privileges for brewers.  Brewers and distributors are good partners and some craft brewers need limited retail privileges to build their businesses."

This seems like a position change from last year, when Criss said small brewers were in "unfair competition with retailers."

Here is the complete BIF news release:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., April 21, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "The Beer Industry of Florida (BIF) does not support current proposals that would virtually eliminate retail privileges for brewers. Brewers and distributors are good partners and some craft brewers need limited retail privileges to build their businesses. Therefore, it's in distributors' interest that small brewers should have a well-defined, limited exception in the statute that allows them to operate as retailers, both on-premise and off-premise."

"The Beer Industry of Florida has supported the 64-ounce container, also known as the 'growler' for three years in a row, with no strings attached. The trade association, which consists of MillerCoors beer distributors from across the state, has also supported bills that would preserve Florida's state-based system of alcohol regulation, placing reasonable restrictions on brewers' ability to operate as retailers."

"BIF will work with policy makers and industry members to permit limited retail privileges and other innovations sought by craft brewers, such as the 64-ounce "growler" container. However, it will oppose vertical integration of the industry that allows an industry member to operate in all three tiers in an unrestricted manner."

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Alan Shaw

Alan Shaw has been a fan of craft beer for more than a decade. He is partial to hops and has been an editor at the Herald-Tribune since 1997. He can be reached at (941) 361-4914, by email or mail at 1741 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. Follow him at @alancshaw on Twitter and on Facebook.
Last modified: April 23, 2014
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