Vt. beverage-makers look to feds for help

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Vermont's craft beverage-makers are looking to the federal government for help to make it through the coronavirus crisis.

Craft beer, cider, wine and spirits have been a bright spot in the Vermont economy in recent years. But with bars and restaurants closed, sales have plummeted, and producers are headed into an uncertain summer season, where they might be cut off from customers at farmers markets and other gathering spots.

The beverage-makers told Vermont Congressman Peter Welch that the government can help in ways like giving more flexibility in the use of Paycheck Protection funds.

"We are in our off-season right now and the idea of bringing back everybody to spend the money within eight weeks at a time we don't need them could force us to have layoffs in eight weeks because we brought people back prematurely, Mark Ray of Stowe Cider said.

Other requests from the craft beverage industry included killing the federal excise tax on liquor and allowing takeout orders and direct shipping to customers to continue even after the pandemic.