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Northern Michigan breweries feeling effects of government shutdown

Northern Michigan breweries feeling effects of government shutdown

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- The government shutdown is now in its third week, and the effects are trickling down to small businesses.

Some northern Michigan breweries say if the shutdown continues, it may impact their ability to sell beer.

Permits and label approvals all that go through the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, so any changes breweries want to make right now will have to wait.

John Neidermaier is the owner of Brewery Terra Firma in Traverse City. For a while, he's been planning the release of four new canned beers, aiming for the first quarter of this year.

“All of our labels and graphics that go on our cans and bottles all have to be submitted to the TTB, which is the federal tax and trade bureau,” said Neidermaier.

Those applications sitting on the desk of that federal office which is closed, amid the shutdown.

“We really can’t do anything,” said Neidermaier. “We’re dead in the water. We have to wait for them to say, 'okay these graphics are fine' and allow us to use them before we can go and submit them to the can manufacture and actually have the cans made.”

But approving labels isn't the only thing on hold.

Short's Brewing Company needs federal approval for certain small business loans and permits, which they also can't get.

“We’ve got a fairly sizable construction project going on right now that we are funding out of pocket, which is becoming more painful by the day,” said Short’s Partner, Scott Newman-Bale.

While Short’s gets most of their labels approved well in advance of a beer release, they are always last-minute changes.

And if the shutdown lasts much longer, it could disrupt their release schedule.

“I just don’t think that anyone really realizes how much it impacts day-to-day life for so many different people,” said Newman-Bale. “How much economic damage we're probably doing to ourselves long-term.”

Both breweries saying there is not much they can do right now besides wait and hope it ends soon.

“So there are people that are really excited about these beers and having them available statewide,” said Neidermaier. “So the government shutdown makes them a little upset.”

The government shutdown isn't having an impact on every brewery.

Earthen Ales in Traverse City says because their products stay within Michigan, they work with state regulators instead of anyone federally, so they are not having any hold ups.

Another concern from the breweries is that once the government opens up, there will be a huge backlog, and it could take much longer than normal to get approval.

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