Sidney Herald: MonDak senators unite to push legislation to help craft breweries

by Renee Jean

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana, and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, as well as North Dakota Republican senators Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven have written to Senate Leadership to urge them to pass the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act before the end of the year, which would make permanent existing federal excise tax rates for beverage and alcohol producers.

Montana and North Dakota both are among states that have seen a surge in the craft beer industry. It’s not only creating new jobs and businesses across the state, with the potential for becoming tourist and entertainment attractions in and of themselves, but it’s adding jobs across multiple sectors, including agriculture and manufacturing.

The economic duress of the pandemic, however, has devastated this fledgling industry at a critical time, and that would be compounded by a sudden increase in federal excise taxes, lawmakers wrote in their letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer.

Producers have already seen dramatic declines in revenue because of the closures of tasting rooms and restaurants, bars, and other on-premise establishments, and cancelations of major sporting events and concerts,” the senators wrote. “These losses ripple throughout the supply chain, affecting farmers, agriculture producers, manufacturers, truck drivers, warehouse workers, and countless others.”

The bill has the suport of 77 senators and 351 representatives, the lawmakers note in their letter.

“This bill is a bipartisan priority, and an important economic lifeline to thousands of businesses across the country,” the senators conclude in their letter.

This rise in craft breweries has attracted attention both nationally and regionally. Most recently, a Helena-based video marketing business, which wants to produce a full-length documentary on the industry’s rise in Montana, has started a Kickstarter campaign to produce a documentary of the industry’s rise in the state.

The independent film being developed by Socialflixx would spotlight all 94 of the state’s breweries, including a 95th that is under construction, as well as Meadlowlark and 1035 Brewing in Sidney.

The film will also document the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Montana’s unique agriculture infrastructure, on the rise of these breweries.

The Kickstarter campaign began Friday, November 27th, 2020, and will continue through Christmas Day to help raise the necessary funding for the film. The goal is to raise $35,000 in that 30-day timeframe to purchase key cinema camera equipment, and pay for travel costs to film at each brewery.

Kickstarter is an “all or nothing” format, so if the campaign fails to get enough pledges, no funds are awarded, and the project won’t be able to move forward.

A full synopsis of the film can be found at

Those interested in supporting the film can do so online at the project’s Kickstarter page,