by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
John Trump wrote yesterday for Carolina Journal about the lack of clarity from Gov. Roy Cooper about whether his “Phase Two” executive order Wednesday, May 20, would allow brewery, wine, and distillery bars to open. Carolina Journal asked the governor’s office for clarification, as news media should.
The governor’s office chose to ignore the question, as any government official serving the public shouldn’t. The answer would also have applied to cideries.
Originally, brewery, wine, distillery, and cider bars were among the businesses slated to reopen under Cooper’s previously announced plan for his “Phase Two” of reducing shutdowns.
Once again, however, the governor and DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen pretended that their proprietary “science” on COVID-19 suddenly pulled a crazy Ivan on them. We’re supposed to believe it obligated them to force a seemingly random selection of businesses to stay shut down for another five weeks.
The losers of their latest show of Pretense of Knowledge included brewery, wine, distillery, and cider bars.
Today, Rick Benfield, sales manager for the Charlotte cidery Good Road CiderWorks, took to Twitter in his understandable frustration. I doubt his sentiments are at all unique. Here is the text from his series of tweets:
@NC_Governor I couldn’t be more disappointed in your decision(at last minute) to remove my business @GoodRoadCider and others from Phase 2. The message we personally take from this is that you don’t feel we’re smart enough to put safety measures in place
to protect the public. We had numerous meetings about how we would prepare our business to maintain social distancing, etc. Your message implies that restaurants, tattoo parlors, hair salons, nail salons, & public pools are smarter than we are.
But you disappointed all of us. I will certainly remember this in November. I really thought you were a friend to the craft beer, craft cider, craft spirits, and wineries, but I feel you turned your back on us. I hope you reconsider this asap, we deserve
and need to reopen. I really hope you do take time to read this.
How can our policymakers help cideries?
First, let them be open. There’s no evidence-based reason to keep cideries et al. shut down while restaurants are open. They ought to be open and welcoming the public back in.
In our Carolina Rebound project, I propose a way to help cideries going forward with a sensible regulatory fix:
Define and tax ciders like beer instead of like wine.
North Carolina defines and taxes ciders like wine instead of like beer, which gives them a 62 percent higher tax rate. North Carolina is the nation’s seventh-largest apple producer, and Henderson County is the nation’s seventh-most productive county for apple production. Defining ciders as wine places alcohol content and carbonation restrictions that, owing to the nature of ciders, are hard for cideries to achieve. There are about 30 cideries in North Carolina, but a more certain definitional and tax environment would help them, as well as encourage growth in a natural industry.
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