Sen. Ron Wyden warns that A-B InBev/SAB Miller merger could hurt Oregon craft brewers and stifle competition

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (center left) with Deschutes Brewery President Gary Fish and Rogue's Brett Joyce at a recent event at Hopworks announcing Wyden's Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which he introduced in June 2015.
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (center left) with Deschutes Brewery President Gary Fish and Rogue’s Brett Joyce at a recent event at Hopworks announcing Wyden’s Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which he introduced in June 2015.

We’re lucky to have U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, who understands what a treasure Oregon’s crarft-beer industry is and how much it contributes to the life, culture and economy of our state. Here’s a press release from his office detailing the the letter he recently wrote to the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission:

Following reports of merger discussions between beer makers Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today urged the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice to weigh in any future review process how a deal would affect craft brewers, consumers and distributors in Oregon and across the country. Recent media reports suggest the so-called “macro-brewers” may have sought to curb competition by acquiring distributors and limiting the access craft brewers have to consumers in stores, bars and restaurants.

“It is incumbent on those charged with enforcing the nation’s competition laws to ensure that this proposed merger or others like it not disadvantage craft brewers in Oregon and nationwide or restrict consumer choice,” Wyden wrote in the letter. “I am concerned by recent reports suggesting Anheuser-Busch InBev and its wholly-owned distributors may have acted to curb competition in markets including Oregon. The reports detail large brewers seeking to obstruct and outmaneuver craft brewers by purchasing distributors and exerting control over tap lines and store shelves. In light of these events, I ask you to consider not only the direct effects of any proposed merger’s impact on consumers and competitors in the large scale beer market, but also the effects on the ability for brewers of all sizes to enjoy fair access to distribution chains and consumers.

As part of his effort to promote job creation and healthy competition in the growing beverage industry, Senator Wyden also introduced the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act in June. The bill would cut taxes and modernize outdated regulations for craft brewers, cider makers, vintners and distillers.

The full text of Senator Wyden’s letter to the FTC and DOJ is online.

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