Due to COVID-19, Oregon has already lost 50,000 hospitality jobs

PORTLAND, Ore. — Closures due to COVID-19, coupled with unprecedented wildfires, have had a devastating impact on Oregon’s breweries, wineries, cideries, restaurants, bars and hospitality sector. The Oregon Beverage Alliance appreciates that Gov. Kate Brown’s proposed budget does not include harmful tax increases that would add insult to injury for these homegrown businesses.

“When brewpubs, tasting rooms, restaurants and bars were ordered by the state of Oregon to close, overnight our business models were destroyed. Deschutes lost 45% of its business over the course of one week and it is currently happening again. Even when restaurants and brewpubs reopen, there will be limitations on seating, eliminating revenue that will significantly threaten Oregon’s craft beer industry. With the current closures in place, craft breweries have had to once again furlough many employees. The Governor knows we cannot afford a tax increase,” said Michael LaLonde, President and CEO of Deschutes Brewery.

“I am a fifth-generation Oregon farmer, and sadly, this is the first year our family vineyard will shrink instead of grow because of COVID-19 and unprecedented wildfires. Now is the time for lawmakers to support these job creators, not burden them with additional taxes. We can pull through these horrible times and will be back to growing opportunities through living wage jobs and providing more tax dollars and high-value tourism. Reasonable taxation is the key to growth and investment in this critical sector of Oregon’s economy and identity,” said Adam Campbell, Owner and Winemaker at Elk Cove Vineyards.

“Because of COVID-19, 81% of Oregon’s 100 cideries were forced to close their tasting rooms and 50% laid off workers. At 2 Towns Ciderhouse, we’ve fought to keep our 100 employees, but another tax increase and continued closures only make it harder for us to invest in these jobs, and it will result in higher prices for consumers. We need the support of Gov. Brown and other lawmakers during these challenging times,” said Aaron Sarnoff Wood, Co-founder of 2 Towns Ciderhouse.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Oregon was home to 400 breweries, 900 wineries, 1,200 vineyards, 100 cideries, 73 distributors, 10,000 restaurants and 37,200 farms, creating thousands of good-paying jobs and several billion dollars in wages. Many of those jobs are now at risk or have been lost. Tax increases only make it harder for these businesses to invest in rehiring, equipment, upgrades and expansion, and will result in higher prices for consumers.

Sadly, earlier this year the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) released a budget proposal for the next biennium budget that would have raised $293 million from new beer, wine and cider taxes. The OHA proposal would have resulted in an unprecedented 800% tax increase on Oregon’s brewers, winemakers, cideries and consumers at a time when people are struggling with the COVID-19 recession. Prudently, the Governor recognized these struggling businesses and the negative impact an increased tax would have on local jobs and Oregon’s economy. 

Oregonians also overwhelmingly voted to fund OHA and addiction recovery through Ballot Measure 110, making it unnecessary to raise taxes on Oregon’s local beer, wine, cider and hospitality businesses. Nearly 75% of Oregon likely voters oppose increasing beer, wine and cider taxes because they know these businesses are vitally important to Oregon’s identity and economy. Oregonians recognize they can have both strong and responsive addiction treatment programs without unnecessarily raising taxes on the local beer, wine and cider sector.

Oregon already has some of the highest alcohol prices in the country. And Oregon’s beer, wine, cider and spirits sectors are the third largest source of revenue for the state — behind income taxes and the state lottery.


About the Oregon Beverage Alliance 

The Oregon Beverage Alliance is made up of local brewers, winemakers, cidermakers, distillers and their supply and hospitality partners creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. Learn more: www.DontTaxMyDrink.org