JANUARY 17, 2019
YOUR SOURCE FOR CAWG AND INDUSTRY NEWS. FOR CAWG MEMBERS ONLY.
TOP NEWS ITEMS
Farmworker Bill Introduced by California Congressional Representatives
U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein today introduced legislation that would protect farmworkers from deportation and help them earn legal status and eventual citizenship. Lofgren is the new chair of the House Judiciary Committee’s immigration subcommittee and Panetta serves on the House Ag Committee.
 
Highlights of H.R. 641 /  Agricultural Worker Program Act of 2019 :
  • Farmworkers who have worked in agriculture for at least 100 days in the past two years may earn blue card status that allows them to continue to legally work in the Unites States. 
  • Farmworkers who maintain blue card status for the next three years or five years -- depending on hours worked in agriculture -- would be eligible to adjust to lawful permanent residence (green card). 
 
The House bill is co-sponsored by dozens of Democratic representatives, including 22 from California. The Senate version (bill number has not been released) is co-sponsored by 11 Democratic senators. Feinstein and colleagues previously introduced the Agricultural Worker Program Act of 2017.

“We appreciate the effort to provide legal status to the many immigrant farmworkers currently in the United States who contribute greatly to the communities where they live and work,” CAWG President John Aguirre said. “However, the bill fails to address the current broken H-2A visa guestworker program. This means it offers no long-term solution to the chronic labor shortages that plague California agriculture.”
 
CAWG supports passage of comprehensive immigration legislation to remedy the nation’s highly flawed and dysfunctional immigration policies. In particular, CAWG is focused on passage of legislation that would allow immigrant farmworkers in the United States to continue working in agriculture, offer opportunities for their family members to adjust to legal status and provide for an effective and efficient agricultural guestworker program to meet the labor needs of California’s farmers.

House Passes Disaster Assistance Package
This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed  H.R. 268 , a bill that provides disaster assistance to people and communities affected by hurricanes and wildfires in 2018. The bill also funds various projects and programs to strengthen infrastructure and mitigate the effects of future disasters. H.R. 268 includes up to $1.1 billion to fund the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP), which would provide disaster assistance payments to crop and livestock producers affected by hurricanes and wildfires last year. CAWG is working closely with U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) on provisions of the bill intended to assist winegrape growers. Thompson is spearheading an effort with other members of the California congressional delegation to ensure winegrape growers who suffered losses due to wildfires and smoke are eligible for WHIP payments.
 
This week, the Trump administration issued a statement of policy opposing disaster assistance for agricultural producers. The administration stated it, “…does not support the $1.1 billion provided for crop and livestock losses. Existing USDA safety net programs, including crop insurance, can provide this assistance to producers.”
 
CAWG President John Aguirre said, “The administration’s opposition to disaster assistance for growers fails to take into account the unprecedented nature of wildfires that devastated communities, produced damaging smoke and ruined crops. Assistance for California growers is absolutely appropriate.”
New Crop of California Representatives Join Veterans to Steer Federal Ag Policy
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office announced that six Californians will serve on the House Committee on Agriculture. Reps. Josh Harder (D-Turlock) and TJ Cox (D-Fresno), who defeated Republicans Jeff Denham and David Valadao last November, will start their freshman terms as committee members. Both are joined by Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara), who starts his second term in office, but is new to the committee. Other California representatives who will continue on the committee include Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale), Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel) and Jim Costa (D-Fresno), the most senior Californian on the committee.

Farm Service Agency Offices Temporarily Open in 11 California Cities
The government shutdown has had a significant impact on USDA services, but the agency announced that Farm Service Agency (FSA) service centers will reopen on Friday, Jan. 18 and Tuesday, Jan. 22 in the following cities: Bakersfield, Merced, Modesto, Redding, Salinas, Santa Maria, Stockton, Ukiah, Willows, Yreka and Yuba City. Individuals can visit in person or call . The press release outlines which services will or will not be available.  

Government Relations Report
NEW PERMITTING PROCESS FOR GROWERS?
For several years, the State Water Resources Control Board has been developing  regulations that define wetlands and create procedures for permitting dredged or fill discharge . On Jan. 3, the Water Board  announced  its final version of the regulations. The regulations are to be taken up for approval by the board on Feb. 5 in Sacramento.
 
The regulations are so narrowly written that land that is routinely farmed may be considered a wetland and normal, daily and seasonal farming activities may be subject to a permit by the regional water board. 
 
The Water Board’s  staff report   claims the proposal exempts “farming, ranching and silviculture.” However,  the regulation itself  never uses those three words. Instead, where there may be an ag exemption, the exemption also has a huge loophole. The exemption provides that it does not apply to waters of the state, which is broadly defined. There are dozens of other serious problems, including that the regulations provide that prior converted cropland is recognized only if certified by a federal agency.
 
Consequently, it is not clear what the Water Board intends. Nonetheless, they have stated this is the final version of the regulation.
 
CAWG is working with several ag groups to inform the Water Board on how this proposal would apply to agriculture. The board will not accept written comments, so it is very important that they hear directly from growers. If you would like to testify at the Feb. 5 hearing, please e-mail Michael Miiller at  Michael@CAWG.org  and he will help coordinate things for you.

-Michael Miiller / michael@cawg.org / 916-379-8995
Silicon Valley Bank Publishes Wine Industry Report 2019
Rob McMillan, executive vice president and founder of Silicon Valley Bank’s wine division, has released the Wine Industry Report 2019. The 50-plus page report assesses current conditions in the industry and provides a forecast based on micro- and macroeconomic and behavioral trends. “This is probably the most important report that we’ve put together,” he said during a broadcast. “I say that because I believe the wine industry has reached a tipping point.”

Brexit Plan and California Wine Exports
With British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan rejected this week, it remains to be seen what the impact will be on U.S. agricultural exports. A CBS News article states, “The U.K. is the fourth largest export destination for American goods and services. If there is no Brexit deal, a weakened British pound would make U.S. goods more costly to buy in the U.K. The U.S. farming and manufacturing sectors could be hit hardest, with the biggest exports including aircraft and machinery, as well as wine and beer, tree nuts and live animals.” Wine Institute reported on wine exports to the U.K. in a  March 2018 press release .
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Trump Speaks at AFBF Annual Convention
Border security, the farm bill, ag labor, WOTUS and trade were among the main points of President Trump’s hourlong speech at this week’s American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting. It was the second straight year that he addressed the group.


WATER & WEATHER
Winter Weather: Are You Prepared?
California was pummeled with heavy rain, flooding, strong winds and snow this week. The California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) reminds residents to take steps to be prepared for a potential future disaster. Cal OES has number of plans, guidance materials, support information, videos and other resources to assist in development of an all-encompassing preparedness program.




EDUCATION & RESOURCES
California Ag Leadership Program Seeks Applicants for Class 50
Represent the wine industry as a member of the California Agricultural Leadership Program! Dozens of CAWG member employees are alumni of the program, an advanced leadership development experience for mid-career agricultural professionals. Class 49, inaugurated in fall 2018, includes three individuals from the winegrape industry: James Ewart of Delicato Family Vineyards, Taylor Serres of Serres Ranch and Daryn Miller of Monterey Pacific. Applicants must be growers or individuals working in allied businesses or organizations. Interested candidates are encouraged to attend recruitment events and talk with alumni about the program. Phase one applications are due by April 29.

Tax Filing Season Begins Jan. 28; Tax Returns Due April 15
The IRS announced that despite the government shutdown, it will begin processing tax returns on Monday, Jan. 28 and provide refunds to taxpayers as scheduled. The filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15.


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UPCOMING EVENTS
WGA Leadership Luncheon
Dan Sumner, director of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center, is the featured guest presenter at the upcoming Winegrape Growers of America Leadership Luncheon in Sacramento. Sumner will discuss current trade policy and disputes and the impact on U.S. agriculture and wine markets. 

The luncheon will also include a presentation honoring the recipient of the Rich Smith Distinguished Service Award. CAWG members and their guests are welcome to attend the luncheon.

WHEN: Jan. 30 / 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Hyatt Regency, Capitol View Room
 
> REGISTER  
UCD and UC ANR Grapevine Production Short Course
Four full days of instruction with hands on demos in the vineyard.

WHEN: Feb. 12-15 
WHERE: Springhill Suites in Napa and Oakville Experiment Station
COST: $1,200

CAWG / LDGGA Joint Meeting
Thank you to all those who attended the CAWG / Lodi District Grape Growers meeting this morning!

CALENDAR
January 29-31
Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, Sacramento

January 30
Winegrape Growers of America Leadership Luncheon, Sacramento

February 26
CAWG Board of Directors meeting, Sacramento 

April 10
CAWG Winegrape Day in the Capitol, Sacramento

April 10
CAWG Foundation Wine Reception, Sacramento

April 11
CAWG Board of Directors meeting, Sacramento