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Whiskey manufacturers are suffering from a worsening hangover as a result of the trade war.

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Whiskey manufacturers are suffering from a worsening hangover as a result of the trade war.
Whiskey manufacturers are suffering from a worsening hangover as a result of the trade war.

Whiskey manufacturers are suffering from a worsening hangover as a result of the trade war.

 

If their entanglement in a trans-Atlantic trade battle is not resolved soon, a hangover from Trump-era tariff conflicts could become much more difficult for American whiskey distillers.

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s presidency, recent breakthroughs to begin restoring U.S. trade ties with the European Union and the United Kingdom left bourbon, Tennessee whiskey, and rye whiskey out. Tariffs on certain spirits have been suspended, but the EU and UK’s 25% tariffs on American whiskey remain in effect. In June, the EU’s tariff rate on whiskey is expected to double to 50% in the main export market for American whiskey producers.

A leading spirits advocate is pleading with Katherine Tai, the United States’ top trade envoy, not to desert whiskey makers. The American Distilled Spirits Council encouraged her to lobby for an immediate suspension of European tariffs as well as negotiations to remove them.

After Tai was confirmed by the Senate, the council issued a statement saying, “Swift elimination of these tariffs would help benefit U.S. employees and customers as the economy and hospitality industry begin to recover from the pandemic.”

Since mid-2018, when the EU levied tariffs on American whiskey and other U.S. goods in response to Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on European steel and aluminum, American whiskey producers have been caught up in the trans-Atlantic trade war.

According to the council, American whiskey exports to the EU have fallen by 37% since then, costing whiskey distilleries hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue between 2018 and 2020. Exports of American whiskey to the United Kingdom, the industry’s fourth-largest market, have dropped by 53% since 2018, according to the study.

Tariffs are a levy on whiskey producers, which they can either bear in lower income or pass on to consumers in the form of higher costs — or risk losing market share in highly competitive markets.

American whiskey has become “collateral damage” in trade disputes, according to Amir Peay, owner of the James E. Pepper Distillery in Lexington, Kentucky. It has cost him roughly three-quarters of his European business, and a looming EU tariff of 50% threatens to drain what remains.

In a phone interview on Thursday, Peay said, “That could probably end our business in Europe as we’ve known it over the years.”

As a measure against the possible doubling of the EU tariff, he has already limited some whiskey exports to Europe. James E. Pepper 1776 is his distillery’s signature bourbon and rye.

Peay invested a lot of time and money into developing European markets, especially in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. Before the trade wars, he had planned to double his European business.

“The way things are going, everything we’ve spent so far seems to be in jeopardy,” he said.

Tariffs have also affected the spirits industry’s behemoths.

“We estimate that our business has borne approximately 15% of the entire tariff bill imposed against the United States in response to steel and aluminum tariffs,” Lawson Whiting, president and CEO of Brown-Forman Corp. in Louisville, Kentucky, said recently. “They have turned into a huge concern for us, and we must fix it as soon as possible.”

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, a global brand, is Brown-most Forman’s famous commodity.

According to the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, tariffs lowered Kentucky bourbon producers’ exports by 35% in 2020, with shipments to the EU falling by nearly 50%.

The EU has historically been Kentucky distilleries’ largest global market, accounting for 56 percent of all exports in 2017. According to the group, it’s already about 40%.

“For more than two years, our signature bourbon industry has been seriously affected by a trade war that has nothing to do with whiskey,” said KDA President Eric Gregory. “And if we don’t deescalate this conflict, it’ll get a lot worse.”

According to the association, Kentucky distilleries produce 95 percent of the world’s bourbon.

The thawing of US-EU and UK trade tensions was part of an attempt to settle a long-running Airbus-Boeing feud. Tariffs that had been levied on certain spirits producers on both sides of the Atlantic had been suspended. However, the breakthroughs left several problems unanswered, including the differences that led to the retaliatory tariffs that are now being levied on American whiskey.

Since tariffs have been suspended, some European spirits producers may export their goods duty-free into the United States, while American whiskey producers are still subject to tariffs, according to Whiting.

He said, “All we want is a level playing field for American whiskey.”

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Nadine Turnbull, 91, still missing more than 2 weeks after Marshall fire

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Nadine Turnbull, 91, still missing more than 2 weeks after Marshall fire

Courtesy Amy Smith

Nadine Turnbull, right, is missing in the aftermath of the Marshall fire. She’s pictured with granddaughter Layla Cornell.

More than two weeks after the Marshall fire raced through Superior, investigators still can’t say anything definitive about the fate of 91-year-old Nadine Turnbull, who was reported as missing by family members after her home on the edge of town burned to the ground.

Turnbull was at home, in the 1500 block of South 76th Street, with her adult granddaughter, Layla Cornell, when flames engulfed their house, according to a GoFundMe online fundraiser organized by a friend of the family. Cornell managed to escape, but Turnbull was last seen inside.

The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office said the investigation into the possible death of a second person in the Dec. 30 wildfire remains ongoing, and a spokeswoman would not identify Turnbull by name — though her family has publicly identified her as the person still missing.

“The identification of a decedent, once it is determined there is a decedent, is done by the Boulder County Coroner’s Office,” Carrie Haverfield, a sheriff’s spokeswoman, said in an email to The Denver Post.

In the days after the Marshall fire, Sheriff Joe Pelle said at least two people remained missing. One of them, Robert Sharpe, was confirmed dead on Jan. 7 by the county coroner after investigators found partial human remains in the 5900 block of Marshall Road, where he lived. His remains were identified through DNA and circumstances at the scene.

Sharpe received an in-person evacuation notice, although Haverfield did not say who visited his property to tell him to evacuate. Sharpe chose not to leave, she said in the email. He also was not registered for cellphone alerts through the county’s Everbridge notification system and did not have a landline enrolled in the program.

Pushed by hurricane-force winds, the Marshall fire destroyed more than 1,000 homes and burned more than 6,000 acres in Superior, Louisville and unincorporated Boulder County, making it the most destructive wildfire in state history. Experts warn similar fires could become more commonplace amid a changing climate.

Snow and wintry weather on Dec. 31 helped put an end to the wildfire, but also made the investigative task of finding evidence about what happened to Turnbull difficult.

The uncertainty has weighed heavily on Turnbull’s family and neighbors, especially since they tried to rescue her as flames overtook the house.

Neighbor Scotty Roberts told CBS Denver that he barely escaped his family’s home in the fire and went to Turnbull’s house to tell her to get out, asking a sheriff’s deputy to come with him.

However, as soon as the front door opened and let air inside, the fire went “woosh” and intensified, he said. Cornell, Turnbull’s granddaughter, escaped, but Turnbull was tethered to her dogs, and the leashes were wrapped around a table, the station reported.

“I couldn’t pull all of them and the table with me at the same time,” said Roberts, who described the fire as being “everywhere” at that point.

He said he was sorry and ran, said Roberts, who shook with emotion during the interview.

Haverfield, the Boulder County sheriff’s spokeswoman, declined to answer questions about whether any first responders went to the home and whether anyone attempted to evacuate Turnbull, citing the ongoing investigation.

Savanah Garcia Martinez, great-granddaughter of Turnbull, told Denver7 that Turnbull had a bubbly, welcoming personality.

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Vikings interview John Spytek, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah for general manager job

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Vikings to interview for GM job Catherine Raiche, NFL’s highest-ranking personnel executive

The Vikings on Monday interviewed Tampa Bay Buccaneers vice president of player personnel John Spytek and Cleveland Browns vice president of football operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah for their general manager opening.

The Vikings fired general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer last Monday after an 8-9 season. They now have conducted three virtual interviews for the GM job, following one on Sunday with Tennessee Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort.

Spytek is in his sixth season with Tampa Bay and 18th in the NFL. The Buccaneers, the defending Super Bowl champions, defeated Philadelphia 31-15 in a wild-card playoff game Sunday.

Adolfo-Mensah in 2021 was in his second season with the Browns and ninth in the NFL.

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After Mercy Hospital sought to take COVID-19 patient off ventilator, wife sues and gains transfer to Texas

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COVID-19 Wednesday update: 57 more Minnesota deaths and 2,807 new cases

A 55-year-old Buffalo, Minn., man, critically ill from COVID-19, has been transferred to a Texas hospital after his wife secured a restraining order against an Allina hospital that had planned to take him off a ventilator.

According to court documents, Anoka County District Judge Jennifer Stanfield on Thursday granted Anne Quiner, wife of and power of attorney for Scott Quiner, the order. Anne Quiner then moved him from Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids to an undisclosed Texas hospital.

“The patient was transported to a health care facility of the family’s choice this morning,” the health care system said in a statement Saturday. “Allina Health is grateful the family was able to find a health care facility that meets their needs and we continue to wish them all the best.”

On Monday, after questions were raised about Scott Quiner’s care, Allina released a second statement saying it “has great confidence in the exceptional care provided to our patients, which is administered according to evidence-based practices by our talented and compassionate medical teams.” The Minneapolis-based health care system said it couldn’t discuss details of Quiner’s care because of privacy laws.

Quiner, who tested positive for the virus in late October and was admitted to Waconia Hospital with critically low oxygen levels, according to two separate fundraising pages put together for the Quiners for their extensive medical bills.

Scott Quiner’s vaccination status was not revealed in the court documents. However, the Star Tribune reported that he was not vaccinated.

After requiring deep sedation, his oxygen levels were not improving. He was put on a ventilator and transferred to the intensive care unit at Mercy Hospital on Nov. 6.

According to the Quiners’ attorney, Marjorie Holsten, Anne Quiner was advised that Mercy intended to turn off her husband’s ventilator at noon on Jan. 13. She included a screenshot of his medical chart in the court file to show the hospital’s intentions.

“At this time there is no change in the care plan,” the chart reads. “As defined yesterday, we will plan for cessation of ventilatory support tomorrow (1/13/2022) at noon. Family would be able to be present at the bedside thru the compassionate exception to the no visitor status at this time.”

In Anne Quiner’s petition, she wrote: “Absent an order from the court restraining Defendant Mercy hospital from turning off the ventilator, my husband will die.”

Local conservative podcaster Stew Peters took up the Quiners’ cause and has been posting screenshots of Anne Quiner’s texts to him on Telegram, an instant messaging service.

Peters reported that Scott Quiner’s pulse faded while in transit to Houston on Sunday night, but rallied at the hospital and that he has shown slight improvements and was being taken off heavy sedation. He is receiving physical therapy to rebuild his muscles. All of his organs, except his lungs, are functioning properly, Peters posted, adding that the doctors in Texas told Anne Quiner that her husband was severely malnourished.

A hearing on the restraining order is set for Feb. 11 in Anoka County.

As of Monday afternoon, the GiveSendGo fundraiser and the GoFundMe site had raised a total of $71,319 for the Quiners.

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