Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Alcoholic Beverage Industry Unites to Urge Full Funding of TTB
The alcoholic beverage industry in the United States is highly regulated. The national regulator is the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, part of the Treasury Department, which is known by the acronym 'TTB.'
The alcohol part of TTB has several responsibilities. It collects the Federal Excise Tax (FET), issues licenses to distilled spirits producers, and ensures accurate labeling of alcoholic beverages through its Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) process. Due to industry growth, especially in the micro-distillery segment, TTB has fallen down on that third part of its mission. In this space we have focused on one particular problem area, Rule 5.36(d) enforcement, which concerns state of distillation disclosure.
Recognizing that TTB is broken, the major trade organizations representing all three tiers of the beer, wine, and spirits industry (producers, wholesalers, and retailers) have formed a coalition to urge Congress to pass the full $101 million requested by the administration to fund the TTB.
In a letter sent to appropriations committee chairmen in the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, the coalition praised the successful working relationship between the beverage alcohol industry and its primary federal regulator.
In addition, the industry groups pointed out that TTB is the federal government’s third-biggest revenue generating agency behind the Internal Revenue Service, and Customs and Border Protection. It also noted that TTB officials review well over 100,000 labels and thousands of product formulas each year, as well as completing all license review and background checks.
"[TTB’s] ability to respond swiftly and properly to changes in the alcohol industry has a direct impact on jobs, consumer protection, the innovation of new products, and the collection of federal excise taxes,” the letter said. It noted that TTB’s workforce had been cut by more than 50 full-time staff members at a time when the number of companies and products in the sector has increased by more than 53 percent.
“We need a well-funded TTB to be able to process label requests quickly in order to get new products to market in this highly competitive global marketplace. We also need a well-funded TTB to prevent and guard against unscrupulous actors from entering our marketplace who otherwise could harm the public with dangerous products, which has occurred outside of the United States with counterfeit alcohol,” the letter stated.
Hal Rogers, who represents Kentucky's Fifth Congressional District, is Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Organizations that signed the letter include: American Beverage Licensees, The Beer Institute, Brewers Association, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, National Association of Beverage Importers, Inc., National Beer Wholesalers Association, The Presidents’ Forum of the Distilled Spirits Industry, Wine America, Wine Institute, and the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America.
The letter itself is here.