WASHINGTON, June 26/PRNewswire-USNewswire -- This year, many Americans will celebrate the Fourth of July with backyard barbeques, family, friends and a cold beer. According to IRI InfoScan data, the Independence Day holiday period is the number-one occasion for sales and servings of beer in the U.S., ahead of Memorial Day, Labor Day and Super Bowl Sunday. Beer sales during the Fourth of July holiday also contribute to the billions of dollars of economic activity generated by the beer industry annually. In 2006, this activity accounted for 1.4% of the U.S. gross domestic product.

The brewing industry directly and indirectly contributes nearly $190 billion to the U.S. economy, according to an economic impact study commissioned jointly by the Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA). This impact includes more than 1.7 million jobs paying almost $55 billion in wages.

"Independence Day is the perfect time to celebrate America's rich brewing tradition and the economic contributions that helped build our nation," said August A. Busch IV, president and chief executive officer, Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc., and chairman of the Beer Institute. "We all know the role George Washington and the Founding Fathers played in forming our great nation, but less well-known is that many of them were brewers who proudly promoted the brewing industry throughout the colonies. Their vision to establish beer as an economic force for the nation's future served the country well during its infancy, and the brewing industry continues to serve as a force for economic prosperity to this day."

The production of beer helps support other segments of the economy as well. For example, the study showed more than $4 billion in economic contributions for the agricultural sector, including malting barley ($537.8 million), hops ($280.7 million), brewers rice ($222.9 million) and brewers corn ($58.4 million).

"These figures demonstrate that the beer industry extends beyond those who make and distribute our products," added Jeff Becker, president of the Beer Institute. "As the single largest purchaser of rice in the country and one of the leading purchasers of other agricultural goods, the beer industry's contributions to America's farm economy are helping support rural families and small businesses coast to coast."

In addition to strengthening the U.S. economy, the industry plays a significant role in promoting responsible consumption of its products during holiday periods and throughout the year. Brewers, importers, and independent beer distributors have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in communities across the country to develop and implement numerous programs to promote responsibility and help fight alcohol abuse. Many brewers will also help sponsor Safe Ride programs for those who may have had too much to drink this holiday weekend.

These efforts, along with those of parents, law enforcement, educators, federal and state alcohol beverage regulators, and other community groups, have contributed to declines in illegal underage drinking and drunk driving over the past 25 years. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the number of fatalities in drunk-driving crashes during the 4th of July holiday has declined 31% since 1982. In addition, according to the federal government's most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 83% of adolescents, ages 12 to 17, are doing the right thing by not drinking. Brewers will continue their initiatives to help address these issues.

The complete Beer Serves America Economic Impact study, including state- by-state and congressional district breakdowns of economic contributions, is available at the Beer Serves America website, http://www.beerservesamerica.org/.

From the July 2, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash