Suppose your family grows peaches in Georgia. Everyone in Georgia loves your peaches, and tells your family you should send those peaches to folks in other states. So you build a business selling peaches in-state as well as out-of-state. People from other states love your peaches! So much that almost one fifth of your business comes from shipping your peaches out of state!
Let’s say people in Utah and Florida start growing peaches. To help local peach growers in those states, the local peach grower associations lobby their state legislatures to make it more difficult to ship peaches in from Georgia. They require your family to get special crates and stamp them “Georgia Peaches.” They require you to pay an importation tax to get your peaches into Utah and Florida. Texas starts growing peaches too! Texas creates a law saying you must have a peach store in Texas to sell your peaches in Texas.
The Georgia Peach Growers Association asks the court to intervene. And Utah, Texas and Florida keep fighting it. Suppose Utah, Florida and Texas are joined by other states. The case ends up in the Supreme Court, and the court rules that a provision in the Constitution called the Commerce Clause bans regulations that favor goods produced in-state over those produced out-of-state. In fact a number of court cases find that the Commerce Clause limits state regulations. You again are shipping your peaches all over the country, because people love your Georgia peaches!
But the other states whose farmers grow peaches aren’t satisfied, so they continued to create laws to block your peaches. Every time the court rules against them, they come up with a new law. Like only certain shippers can bring your peaches into the state. That the shipments must carry warning labels, so that those allergic to peaches will not eat them. And to protect anyone from under 21 from eating the peaches, lest they choke on the pits.
All the people in other states who buy your peaches still want your peaches. But now they will not get to buy them. They will have no choice but to buy peaches from their own states, or whatever the peach distributors want to sell them. They will have no competition, so they can charge peach lovers as much as they want for their peaches.
But why peaches, your family keeps asking? What makes peaches different from any other product that is shipped across state lines? Because peaches are special, say the peach distributors! If those with peach allergies eat peaches, they might commit crimes! Teenagers might eat peaches! Children might eat peaches and choke on their pits! say the distributors (when in truth, the peach distributors want to control all of the peach market because they aren’t content with just the billions they already make distributing peaches.)
What about apples? You ask. Pears? Beef? Chicken? Milk? Why is shipment of these products controlled by the Constitution and Federal Government, but not peaches? Again, argue the Peach Distributors; because peaches are special. Peaches are different. Peaches can be dangerous. You say to them, but what about Tobacco products? Aren’t these dangerous? Aren’t these harmful to children? Don’t they create recognized and documented health hazards? Surely tobacco is much more dangerous than peaches? Aren’t the people who produce these products allowed to ship them to other states? Is not shipment of these products left to the Federal government?
The Peach distributors say, well of course tobacco is much more dangerous, but the tobacco producers’ lobbyists have enough money to make sure this doesn’t happen to them.
If passed, HR 5034 will allow Congress to carve out a special provision that applies to interstate commerce of only one group of products. Not drugs. Not tobacco. Just wine, beer and spirits. Written by the powerful National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) and supported by the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA), this bill will cheat wine consumers and hurt family-owned wineries. Family Winemakers of California opposes it, because it will turn the clock back to the days just after prohibition. But rather than Mob-controlled distribution, we’ll have distribution controlled by a handful of multi-billion dollar companies.
You can stop this power grab by a group of greedy corporations and some over zealous Congressmen looking to line their coffers for the next election.
Here at Another Wine Blog, we’ll continue to talk about how this hurts the small businessman; and exempts this one powerful cartel from the Constitutional provision that governs every other product shipped via interstate commerce. You can read the current text of the bill here. If you’re on Facebook, you can join the fight here at STOP H.R. 5034.
But if you’ve read enough* and want to do something now, contact your congressional representative to insist he or she protects your right to purchase wine! Go to FreeTheGrapes.org to learn more. Or use this handy FreeTheGrapes.org site to automatically generate a letter to send to your U.S. Congressional Representatives in both the House and the Senate.
Stop H.R. 5034. It’s bad for small business. It’s bad for family-owned wineries. It’s bad for you.
*To read more commentary opposing H.R. 5034, check out our previous post, If Passed, HR 5034 Cheats Wine Consumers and other posts on these blogs:
Robert Taylor, Wine Spectator; Jim Harper, Washington Watch; Alder Yarrow, Vinography; Evan Dawson, New York Cork Report; Allan, Cellarblog; Sonadora, Wannabe Wino Wine Blog; Tom Wark, Ferementation; George Parkinson, Blog4Wine; The Wine Harlots; Tom Johnson, Louisville Juice; William Dowd, Dowd on Drinks; Krista Giovacco, Noble Rot; Jeff Lefevere, Good Grape; Jeff Siegel, The Wine Curmudgeon; WineCompass; Joe Smith, KGW; Tyler Colman, Dr. Vino; Wine Business; VintubaTV; Paul Franson, Wines & Vines; Match Vineyards; Tom Wark, Fermentation; Joe Roberts, Wine Crush; Josh Wade, DrinkNectar; David Honig, Palate Press; Adam Japko, Wine Zag; Catie, Through The Walla Walla Grape Vine; John on Wine, and Patrick Beach at The Austin-American Statesman.