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Gov. Scott Walker’s budget includes yet another (previously overlooked) way in which he’s willing to serve big business at the expense of the little guy: He’s taking aim at craft breweries by making it more difficult for them to distribute their products. Of course, beverage giant MillerCoors supports the provision, which would regulate smaller operations as though they too were multinational corporations. With a long legacy of brewing that descends back to its early German immigrants, Wisconsin makes craft beer that’s often spectacularly good. It’s a damned shame Walker is getting his hooks into a state treasure. —KDG
The new provision treats craft brewers — the 60 of whom make up just 5 percent of the beer market in Wisconsin — like corporate mega-brewers, forcing them to use a wholesale distributor to market their product. Under the provision, it would be illegal, for instance, for a small brewer located near a restaurant to walk next door to deliver a case of beer. They’ll have to hire a middle man to do it instead.
But more noteworthy than the provision itself is how it was enacted. The provision was quietly slipped in the massive budget legislation without any consultation from independent craft brewers, who are justifiably outraged by it. One group that clearly did have input, however, is one of the world’s largest beer makers—MillerCoors.
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