Photo Cred: Ian Steele
Many of you may have heard about the most recent attack on craft alcohol. In a dizzying move that led crafters and enthusiasts reeling, the FDA slapped distilleries nationwide with a $14k bill for shifting production to sanitizer in response to a global crisis. I’m sure anyone reading this was aware of the rallying effort on the part of distilleries to help make sanitizing products more readily available in a shortage early in 2020. If you didn’t hear, that’s why your hands have smelled like tequila or vodka for the last several months.
While I think we can all agree that this never should’ve been imposed in the first place, the Department of Health and Human Services officially reversed the fee on New Year’s Eve, according to a Twitter post by HHS, quoting Chief of Staff Brian Harrison. The tweet reads, “Small businesses who stepped up to fight COVID-19 should be applauded by their government, not taxed for doing so. I’m pleased to announce we have directed FDA to cease enforcement of these arbitrary, surprise user fees. Happy New Year, distilleries, and cheers to you for helping keep us safe!” That sounds more like it!
Being a member of the FueledFam myself, I noticed some public concern on the FBH Facebook page. I knew I had to clear the air. Thankfully, the distilleries who put everything aside to lend a much needed hand in a critical time of need are not being punished.
One can only speculate as to why these fees were passed down, and there’s likely something to be said for automated processes, etc. Regardless, this situation seems pretty clear-cut to most, and the fees in question are a practical insult. In fact, they could have easily resulted in the demise of many small distilleries. On top of the $14k “Monograph Drug Facility Fee”, some instances saw an additional fee of more than $9k called a “Contract Manufacturing Organization Facility Fee”. That’s more than $23k in fees. Sheesh.
Whatever the case, the craft alcohol world can breathe just a little easier today (poor choice of words given the pandemic, but I’m gonna stick to it). Thank you to all distilleries who came to our aid when we desperately needed it. The only remaining downside is tequila hands. A small price to pay for a more sanitary world.