Dear Members of Our Craft Spirits Community:
Lately I’ve been reflecting on a constant in life: UNCERTAINTY. It surrounds us. It presents itself daily. It revises our best laid plans. For those who are parents, we know it only too well.
I’ve also thought about our roles in managing uncertainty , aware that those who are likely most successful, have learned how to manage it—to a degree—through hard work and lots of planning. It isn’t about not taking risks—we all do, especially those working with a DSP. A healthy focus should be on risk mitigation.
Look at farmers. Take, for example, one of the most important crops to our industry: CORN! About this time of year, farmers in the mid-West and beyond have finalized Farm Plans & Budgets. Looking at acreage and estimated yield, a formula is used to estimate the total number of bushels. What land is tillable versus that which needs a rest? Dekalb, Channel, or Dyna-Gro? Heirloom seeds? What fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides should be used? Or, is it time to go organic? What does the Farmer’s Almanac say about upcoming weather? Or, do we trust last month’s Punxsutawney Phil? Yep—lots and lots of risk in the production of corn.
Nonetheless, the yields must be grand as evidenced by TTB’s reporting that in 2017 alone, more than 13,825,255,159 pounds of corn was used in the production of distilled spirits. Wild number, right? And, to honor that growth, we’re once again hosting the Heartland Whiskey Competition, as the Corn Marketing Board in over 10 states will advance one distillery within each of the participating states to the BEST of STATE medalist. Want to “risk” becoming that state finalist?
Look at the passage of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, S.362 and H.R. 1175. We’re doing everything we can to guide a positive result in the midst of heaviness with the reality your FET will revert to the $13.50 per proof gallon from the current $2.70 if unsuccessful. If you’ve enjoyed the tax savings and want it to continue, you might wish to focus on how you join the effort to minimize the risk of failure on this legislative front.
TTB Proposed Rulemaking on Labels—yes indeed—yet another area of huge uncertainty. We’re aggregating your feedback for a comment period that has now opened up to June 2019. Have you shared what you think?
And have you shared your details for the 2019 Craft Spirits Data Project? Your input is vital to help us present a vivid picture of the total U.S. craft spirits market. Access the survey below.
Additionally, we’re again asking for your insights on the impending expiration of federal excise tax relief at the end of this year. We’re providing one more opportunity to answer our poll (below) so we can better fine tune our efforts on Capitol Hill.
Speaking of Capitol Hill, have you supported the ACSA PAC? PAC Chair Steve Johnson, this month’s featured Q&A, explains everything you need to know about the PAC and how to get involved.
In his book, ORIGINALS: How Non-Conformists Move the World (Penguin Press 2016), Adam Grant cautions that “a balanced risk portfolio doesn’t mean constantly hovering in the middle of the spectrum by taking moderate risks. Instead, successful originals take extreme risks in one arena and offset them with extreme caution in another.” Later, he goes on to suggest, “[T]he most successful originals are not the daredevils who leap before they look. They are the ones who reluctantly tiptoe to the edge of a cliff, calculate the rate of descent, triple-check their parachutes, and set up a safety net at the bottom just in case.”
Let ACSA be your “safety net,” allowing you to belong and be supported by a community of entrepreneurs who care deeply about our craft. We cannot eradicate uncertainty. But we can help you mitigate risk in a challenging industry.