How provocative is your first question?! I love it! I’m firmly in the camp that a company producing a poison should 100% be set at a higher standard of sustainable production. There are two specific layers to my opinion. The first is that they are creating a poison, one I enjoy myself, so if we are heading towards a future in which companies will fight for commodities, the company that produces an item without nutritional benefit should be sacrificed. The second layer was somewhat alluded to in Meghan’s fantastic essay, but is that beer is also consuming our most precious resource: water. While ABI has already made significant progress on this front, (for instance, they removed the equivalent of how much water it takes to brew 4 billion cans of beer from their brewing process between 2013 and 2014, http://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/38011-Anheuser-Busch-InBev-is-Most-Efficient-in-Terms-of-Water-Use-Among-Global-Brewers-), they were still consuming water at a rate of 3.2 hectoliters of water per hectoliter of beer as of the end of 2015. Long story short, if it comes down to agriculture and water for a growing population, ABI will most likely (or should) lose.
Joe, being a fellow California resident, I resonate with your question of whether or not governments will get involved to curtail production of certain agriculture/crops that may bring economic benefit for the few but far less water for the masses. It is an interesting question to ponder because thousands upon thousands of California residents have staked their career and future on agriculture as a means of providing food for their families. If a government can intervene and restrict these families from working, what is the compensation the government can give in return? A single year of monetary compensation? Five years of subsidized operations? Whatever decision governments make, it won’t be one without sacrifice.