January 04, 2022

Wyden Welcomes Postponement of Changes That Would Hurt Small Brewers in Oregon and Nationwide

Senate Finance Committee Chair says postponement until March 1 allows more time for additional discussions with small brewers

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today welcomed a response from the Ball Corp. that it will postpone action previously scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, which could have hurt small brewers in Oregon and nationwide who order printed beer cans from the company.

Wyden, the Senate Finance Committee chair, had asked Ball in a Dec. 22 letter to postpone implementation of policy changes for its non-contracted customers that would quintuple the minimum number of printed beer cans – from about 200,000 to 1 million cans -- that non-contracted brewers must order at one time. Small brewers have said that fivefold increase in required volume cannot be accommodated. He also wrote in his letter last month about small brewers’ concerns over Ball’s announcement that it would no longer warehouse inventory for small brewers, saying the alternative for small brewers of using third-party distributors for warehousing and labeling services will increase costs and may require the use of shrink-sleeve labels that are less recyclable and less popular among consumers.

Wyden said today that the letter from Ball officials to him announcing the postponement from Jan. 1 until March 1 of the company’s new policies will allow time for additional discussions with small brewers.

“This postponement is good news to start the new year for small brewers in Oregon and throughout the country who now have more time to work on long-term solutions that will allow them to continue getting their quality beer to market and generating jobs in the process.” said Wyden, who led the successful fight for the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act creating federal excise tax credits for craft brewers, vintners, cider makers, and distillers. “I know this is a major concern for small brewers and will continue to birddog this issue for them in the weeks ahead. Meanwhile, this extra time is especially important now when the economic fallout from this ongoing public health crisis is landing hard on small businesses working round the clock to overcome these challenges.”

“The postponement by Ball was welcome news for the Oregon craft beer industry,” said Christina LaRue, Executive Director of the Oregon Brewers Guild. “The majority of our brewery members will not have the ability to commit to such an extreme increase in required volume by Ball. The extension will thankfully give them a little breathing room to help find alternative solutions. But as we’ve seen over the last two years, with record numbers of breweries in Oregon and across the country packaging more of their product to make up for the loss of draft, many will be vying for those same solutions. We would like to thank Senator Wyden for his diligent efforts to help support craft breweries here in Oregon, as well as across the country, as we continue to recover from the immense economic impact the last twenty-two months has had on our industry. We will stay positive that the communication with Ball can remain open and these important discussions can continue.”