Small spirits producers in the US have gained a one-year exemption from paying fees for making hand sanitiser during the pandemic.
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently removed a recent US$14,060 charge for distillers that produced hand sanitiser during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The move came just days after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it would impose fees on distilleries and other facilities that made hand sanitiser.
Trade group the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) has now received confirmation from the HHS for a ‘long-term solution’ that will see distillers excluded from paying the FDA fees.
After 24 hours of talks with the ACSA, senior HHS leaders have made the decision to exempt craft spirits producers from the fees for 12 months after the end of the calendar year in which the Covid-19 pandemic is declared over. This would mean that if the pandemic ended during 2021, distillers would be relieved from paying the fees until 31 December 2022.
“This is a major victory for small distilleries – and small business in general – across the United States,” said ACSA CEO Margie Lehrman. “We were pleased last week when HHS halted the surprise fees for 2020. But today’s decision by HHS leadership removes any lingering uncertainty and gives craft spirits producers plenty of breathing room to continue to meet their communities’ demands for hand sanitiser during this protracted pandemic.”
The ACSA said the move will mean distillers will benefit from an ‘extensive grace period’, allowing them to wind down their sanitiser-making operations, reduce sanitiser stock, and deregister their sites.
The trade group will continue to consult with the HHS and FDA to ensure a fair fee rate once distillers have to start paying them in the future.
Mark Shilling, chair of the ACSA’s government affairs committee and former ACSA president, added: “The past year has been one of tremendous stress, hardship and uncertainty for craft spirits producers. We’re extremely grateful for the quick response and initiative taken by HHS to quickly resolve this issue and put our industry on a firmer footing as we begin 2021.”
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Author: Nicola Carruthers