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Small brewers push lawmakers to pass Small BREW Act

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CHARLOTTE -- Business at Todd Ford's Charlotte Brewery is flowing these days.

In just the last year it has grown 125 percent, but he says it could grow even more if the federal government lowered his taxes.

“It's an additional incentive for us to continue our growth [and] reinvest back in our property,” said Todd Ford, Noda Brewing Company.

That's why small brewers are pushing congressional lawmakers to pass the Small BREW act.

The legislation would, among other things, cut in half the federal tax craft brewers must pay on each of the first 60,000 barrels they produce.

Congressman Patrick McHenry sits on the House Small Brewers Caucus and is a co-sponsor of the bill.

“What they want is a small amount of relief. They don't want any preferential treatment. What they want is the ability to get up and running,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry.

The push for a tax cut comes as the industry continues to grow. Nationally there are a little more than 2,400 small breweries, which is an increase of 18 percent since 2011, and together they produce about 13 million barrels per year or 6.5 percent of the total market.

Not everyone is toasting to this bill, and in fact, it's creating an industry bar fight.

The group that represents some of the largest producers is lobbying to block the legislation.

“It's got to protect all beer drinkers from a tax increase no matter what it says on the label. So it has to be fair, comprehensive and it can't pick winners or losers,” said Joe McClain, president of the Beer Institute.

The Beer Institute wants Congress to pass soon-to-be-introduced legislation known as the Beer Act.

That bill would completely eliminate the federal tax on the vast majority of small brewers, while also giving a tax cut to large beer producers.

The Brewers Association, which represents craft brewers, says it won't oppose the larger tax bill, but thinks government's focus should only be on giving tax relief to the smallest producers.

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