Washington, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA), and 17 original House co-sponsors today introduced the USPS Shipping Equity Act. This bipartisan bill would end the Prohibition-era ban that prevents the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) from shipping alcoholic beverages to consumers. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate today as well.
“In 2019, California wineries shipped 275.6 million cases of wine, yet consumers and manufacturers are prohibited from using the U.S. Postal Service to ship or deliver these everyday products. In most states, private carriers such as FedEx and UPS are already delivering alcoholic beverages. It makes no sense to create a competitive disadvantage for the USPS by barring them from these kinds of shipments, especially given the Postal Service’s dire financial condition,” Rep. Speier said. “The time is long overdue for Congress to lift this Prohibition-era ban for the benefit of beverage manufacturers, consumers, and our struggling postal service.”
“Currently, the U.S. Postal Service cannot ship beer, wine, or distilled spirits, because of an outdated, Prohibition-era ban. This nonsensical regulation limits shipping options for producers and customers alike, affecting many of Central Washington’s local craft breweries and wineries,” Rep. Newhouse said. “The USPS Shipping Equity Act would give rural producers access to another option for shipping alcoholic beverages, thereby increasing market access and enabling Central Washington businesses to continue to invest in our communities.”
“All American businesses deserve the same access to the U.S. Postal Service when it comes to delivering their products to their consumers—and we all have a vested interest in making sure the USPS thrives,” Sen. Merkley said. “Finally eliminating a Prohibition-era ban on shipping wine, beer, and spirits through the mail will ensure that wineries, breweries, and distillers in Oregon and throughout America have another option to consider when it comes to selling their world-class products, while also helping to boost the competitiveness of the USPS.”
The USPS Shipping Equity Act would allow USPS to ship alcoholic beverages directly from licensed producers and retailers to consumers over the age of 21, in accordance with state and local shipping regulations. The bill will give USPS two years to develop regulations and implement the law, ensuring USPS is ready to safely deliver alcoholic beverages to adult consumers with appropriate identification checks in place.
As the market for direct-to-consumer shipping continues to soar, with e-commerce sales expected to top $24 billion, wineries, breweries, and other producers are confined by limited shipping options. The USPS Shipping Equity Act would level the alcohol-shipping playing field and establish a new source of revenue for USPS. This bill would result in tens of millions of dollars in new revenue for the Postal Service in the coming years.
It would also expand access to consumers for direct-to-consumer shipments. While USPS ships to every household in the nation, private carriers do not, especially in many rural areas. Many Americans do not have access to direct-to-consumer alcohol shipments, though they may be legal under their state’s law, because only the Postal Service delivers packages to their door. The current ban is unfair to these consumers.
The USPS Shipping Equity Act is endorsed by the American Postal Workers Union, American Craft Spirits Association, Brewers Association, California State Association of Letter Carriers, Distilled Spirits Council, National Association of Letter Carriers, National Association of Postal Supervisors, National Postal Mail Handlers Union, National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, ReserveBar.com, United Postmasters and Managers of America, and WineAmerica.
Quotes from supporting organizations are below.
“Wineries from Oregon to New York have enjoyed great success shipping their products directly to consumers, particularly during the pandemic, as more and more consumers consumed their favorite wines from the comfort of their own homes,” said Janie Brooks Heuck, Managing Director of Brooks Winery Willamette Valley, Oregon and current WineAmerica Board Chair. "The USPS Shipping Equity Act will open up one more avenue for wineries to get their products safely to consumers. We want to thank Representative Speier’s, Representative Newhouse’s, and Senator Merkley’s leadership on this issue."
“It’s time fix this Prohibition Era regulation, allowing the United States Postal Service the same access to shipping goods as our private sector counterparts. The shipping of alcohol would not only be a source of $50 million a year in revenue for the Postal Service, but would also help grow local breweries, distilleries, and wineries,” said NPMHU National President Paul Hogrogian.
“This legislation will benefit adult consumers while helping the U.S. Postal Service, with its more than 600,000 employees, generate much-needed revenue,” said Chris Swonger, Distilled Spirits Council President and CEO. “The pandemic has greatly accelerated the shift to online shopping and consumers have come to expect new delivery options and greater convenience. For the U.S. Postal Service to compete effectively against other carriers, it must be able to evolve with the changing marketplace.”
“The Brewers Association thanks Representative Speier, Representative Newhouse, and Senator Merkley for introducing the U.S.P.S Shipping Equity Act of 2021. The pandemic has shown the increased demand for direct-to-consumer delivery of beer, and the viability of shipping as a way for breweries to get a broad variety of their product to market. As alcohol shipping laws become commonplace in more states, consumers, small and independent breweries, and the postal service would all benefit if the USPS could legally and safely ship alcohol in states where it is legal to do so,” said Bob Pease, President and CEO of the Brewers Association.
"I applaud Representative Speier, Representative Newhouse, and Senator Merkley for reintroducing the USPS Shipping Equity Act of 2021," said American Postal Workers Union President, Mark Dimondstein. "The time to repeal the prohibition era ban which prevents USPS from delivering alcohol is long overdue. This bill will not only provide new business to USPS, but it will empower small businesses to reach new customers, that other shipping companies simply do not serve."
“While prohibition may have been repealed in 1933, it is still alive and well in the operations of the Postal Service. The NRLCA would like to thank Congresswoman Speier, Congressman Newhouse, and Senator Merkley for once again introducing the USPS Shipping Equity Act, legislation that would end an archaic Prohibition-era ban that prevents the Postal Service from delivering alcoholic beverages to consumers who are over the age of 21,” said Ronnie Stutts, President of the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association. “Competitors of the Postal Service are already allowed to deliver these types of products. By allowing the Postal Service to compete as well, it will open up a new revenue source in a growing market. The Postal Service is constantly recognized as the most trusted government agency and we’re confident if given the chance, and acting within the state and local delivery laws, the Postal Service can be successful in the direct-to-consumer alcohol shipping business.”
“One of the silver linings of the pandemic has been the ability of local craft breweries and distilleries to connect with a larger national market to share their unique products. Unfortunately though, companies that want to use the USPS to ship their alcoholic products are limited from doing so based on outdated laws. The USPS Shipping Equity Act will allow alcohol to be shipped by the USPS giving the Postal Service the same market access enjoyed by its competitors and provide more competitive choice to America’s small businesses,” said Dan Heins, President of the United Postmasters and Managers of America.
A copy of the bill is attached to this press release below.
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