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Event,Legislation,Wine,Wine Business

Why Are Wine, Beer, and Spirits Lobbyists Spending All This Money?

As I read Wine Business’s daily news link email to me, I was struck by one listing after another of  wholesaler lobbyist spending. At first I thought, “Whatever.” Then I thought… “Wait a minute. That’s a lot of spending.”

After I decided to compile a list, I found even more spending that now totals $3,642,000. This was all spent on issues related to the wine/beer/spirits business in the fourth quarter of last year by wholesalers:

  • Distilled Spirits Group Spends $1.2M lobbying in 4Q ~ The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States Inc., whose members include Bacardi USA Inc. and Brown-Forman Corp., spent nearly $1.2 million in the fourth quarter lobbying on drunk driving prevention, food safety and other issues, according to a recent disclosure form. The trade group also lobbied on alcohol sales to the military, marketing, federal excise taxes, deferring taxes on foreign income and other matters in the October-through-December period.
  • Anheuser-Busch spent $690K lobbying gov’t in 4Q ~ Anheuser-Busch, the U.S. unit of ABInbev, spent $690,000 in the fourth quarter to lobby the government on excise taxes, food safety and matters relating to the alcohol industry, according to a recent disclosure report.
  • Diageo spent $570,000 in fourth quarter lobbying government on taxes, labeling issues ~ Diageo lobbied on taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages and other issues. Some state lawmakers have proposed taxing sugary beverages as a way to raise money and reduce obesity, which is linked to costly health problems such as diabetes.
  • Miller-Coors spent $562K lobbying gov’t in Q4 ~ MillerCoors LLC spent $562,000 in the fourth quarter to lobby the government on advertising, agriculture and other matters, according to a recent disclosure report. The joint venture of the U.S. business of Molson Coors and SABMiller’s U.S. unit, with brands like Coors Light and Miller Lite, also lobbied on ethanol from waste beer, underage drinking, alcohol labeling, and other issues in the October-through-December period. Besides Congress, MillerCoors lobbied the Federal Trade Commission, Treasury Department and other entities, according to the report filed Jan. 20 with the House clerk’s office.
  • Wine & Spirits Wholesalers spend $280K on lobbying ~ Besides Congress, the organization lobbied the Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration, departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, and other agencies, according to the report filed Jan. 11 with the House clerk’s office.
  • Pernod Ricard spent $180,000 lobbying in 4Q ~ French liquor company Pernod Ricard spent $180,000 in the fourth quarter to lobby the U.S. government on trade and other issues, according to a recent disclosure report. The Paris-based company also lobbied on federal budget spending. The company, which is known for its anise-flavored aperitifs, Beefeater gin, and Chivas Regal scotch, lobbied both arms of Congress, according to the report filed Jan. 19 with the House clerk’s office.
  • Beer Institute spent $160K lobbying gov’t in 4Q ~ The trade group – whose members include Anheuser-Busch InBev, Heineken USA Inc. and MillerCoors – also lobbied on regulatory matters affecting brewers, including funding for programs to combat underage drinking and enforce laws against it, food safety and other issues.

When you click on any of these links, don’t expect to find any real details. This is all just general spending, with no specifics. I’d love those details, like, what was spent on which particular programs, and into whose pockets did the money land?

In other words, who’s getting all this money and for what bills to be written to benefit wholesalers… This is the way it works, boys and girls. If it was meant to benefit consumers, it’s up to us to lobby for ourselves.

 

Also, the costs for all of this are wrapped into the cost of the beverages. It’s not like they’re paying for this out of the goodness of their corporate hearts and/or pocketbook profits, right?

This blog is brought to you by my inquisitive mind, dedicated to social justice for all, because inquiring minds still want to know… What’s this all about, Alfie?

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2 Responses to “Why Are Wine, Beer, and Spirits Lobbyists Spending All This Money?”

  1. Chris says:

    Wine Investment Could End up Giving You a Great Return on Your Cash. It was nice going through your blog.

  2. Tara says:

    Jo,

    I agree with you whole heartedly on how insightful the details would be! And while some of the expenditures may sound far fetched, lobbying the FTC isn’t so off base.

    Right now, each state has its own set of wine distribution & import/export laws, despite the Commerce Clause stance on inter-state commerce. (This is only addressing the issues of domestic wines, mind you.)

    Some states, like TN, have very strict import/export laws- in particular, banning the import/export of wines to residences as Whiskey & liquor are big businesses and if availablity of a substitute (a tasty one at that!) is made difficult, consumers will refrain from buying such. You often times see this addressed at the winery level when you try to order a case shipped to you: “Will not ship to ….”

    In Texas, you must go through a distributor – a third party whom must also have their cut of the deal and they facilitate teh transaction from winery/producer to the market shelves or personal residence. This is very frustrating if a wine is not represented here and you would like very much to try it!

    And it various vastly across the country as lawmakers decide what works in their state and what would benefit whom. I hate that politics plays such a prevalant role in all of it, but sadly, it does. A lot of producers (esp the smaller ones that can’t afford lobbyists) are advocates for a free & open trade policy between states right now, as it is a CLEAR violation of the Commerce Clause to prohibit certain products in your state, regardless of the means. I think a lot of the money headed toward DC is tied to make sure their product isn’t getting shafted by untapped markets thanks to current policy – or, on the flip side, making sure the law stays on their side and prevents competitors from entering the market. Like you said, details are key.

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