January 21, 2021
YOUR SOURCE FOR CAWG AND INDUSTRY NEWS. FOR CAWG MEMBERS ONLY.
UNIFIED WINE & GRAPE SYMPOSIUM
CLICK THE ENEWS LINK ABOVE TO READ ABOUT:

  • Last call to exhibit at Unified
  • Deadline for shipping the wine tasting kit extended to Thursday, Jan. 21
  • Virtual Unified Symposium highlights: Featured general sessions and Spanish sessions
  • Tips for attending a virtual conference and virtual trade show
  • Follow Unified on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the latest information

COVID-19 NEWS
Webinar: The COVID-19 Vaccine—How it Will Impact Your Workplace and Business Operations
WHEN: Friday, Jan. 22 / 11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
HOSTS: CAWG and Wine Institute 
PRESENTER: Mark S. Goldstein, partner at Reed Smith LLP, will discuss legal issues related to the COVID-19 vaccine, including the permissibility of mandatory employee vaccination policies and other workplace issues triggered by the vaccine.

Wine Country Coalition Sues Gov. Newsom Over Shutdown
The Wine Country Coalition for Safe Reopening this week filed a lawsuit against Gov. Gavin Newsom and California State Public Health Officer Tomás J. Aragón challenging Newsom’s “arbitrary, irrational and unfair ban on outdoor dining and wine tasting.” The coalition includes more than 50 restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms and suppliers in Napa and Sonoma counties and other parts of the Bay Area. “The greatest catastrophe of this ban is that it is senseless,” states the complaint filed in Napa Superior Court. “It has no scientific basis, does nothing to protect public safety, and, in fact, likely undermines public health. Its only effect is to ravage the region’s businesses, community members and workers.”

If you are interested in joining the coalition, you can fill out a form on the website (scroll to the bottom).

COVID-19 Resources and Articles
COVID-19.CA.GOV


NEW
New report from the Biden administration to provide a roadmap to guide America out of the pandemic.
White House, Jan. 21

CalChamber staff members discuss what employers need to consider before mandating that their employees get the vaccine.
CalChamber, Jan. 20


CA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH

CAWG 

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NEWS ITEMS
Federal Update
BIDEN ADMINISTRATION TO REVIEW REGULATORY ROLLBACKS
The Department of Labor (DOL) on Jan. 15 announced a final rule to “streamline and simplify the H-2A application process, strengthen protections for U.S. and foreign workers, and ease unnecessary burdens on employers.” The final rule came after extensive public comments were received from farmers, farmworkers and related groups. However, the Biden administration withdrew the regulation before it could be published as final in the Federal Register. The new administration’s action is part of a broader effort to reverse many Trump era executive orders and regulations viewed by some environmental, labor and social advocacy organizations as deregulatory in nature.
 
Other Trump administration policies subject to review and potential change include the definition of the waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act, EPA’s decision to reject additional regulatory limitations on the use of chlorpyrifos, and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s biological opinion and consultation for the Central Valley Project and State Water Project.

>FACT SHEET: List of agency actions for review


PRESIDENT BIDEN SENDS IMMIGRATION BILL TO CONGRESS
On his first day in office, President Biden signaled to Congress that immigration reform is a high priority for his administration. The bill he sent to Congress would allow many undocumented immigrants currently in the United States – Dreamers, farmworkers and immigrants with temporary protected status – the opportunity to obtain permanent residency status. Other undocumented immigrants could adjust to legal status and would have the opportunity to apply for permanent residency after five years.
 
The bill also proposes a mix of policies and tools to secure the southern border with Mexico, without building a wall. The bill fails to address much needed reforms for various work visa programs, such as the H-2A ag guestworker program. Moreover, the bill does not condition permanent residency status (i.e., a green card) for farmworkers based on continued future work in the ag sector. Prior comprehensive immigration reform bills provided farmworkers an expedited path toward permanent residency status and the opportunity for citizenship, provided they continued to work in agriculture for a specified number of hours and years.
 
Many consider the president’s bill a starting point for negotiations. CAWG intends to work with other ag groups to ensure any immigration legislation that moves forward addresses the needs of ag employers and farmworkers.

>FACT SHEET: President Biden sends immigration bill to Congress


EXECUTIVE ORDERS
President Biden has signed a slew of executive orders, with topics including COVID-19 response, a mask mandate, border wall construction and deportations.


SENATE AND HOUSE AG COMMITTEES
  • Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) is the new chair and Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) is the ranking member. Committee and subcommittee members have not been announced.
  • Rep. David Scott is the new chair and Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.) is the ranking member. Committee and subcommittee members have not been announced.

>ARTICLE: Farm panel charts bipartisan path on climate, rural, social woes (interviews with Scott and Thompson)


USDA STAFF ANNOUNCEMENTS
  • Kevin Shea: Acting secretary until Tom Vilsack is confirmed
  • Jewel Bronaugh: Deputy secretary (No. 2 position)
  • Justin Maxon: Deputy undersecretary for rural development
  • Mae Wu: Deputy undersecretary of marketing and regulatory programs
  • Stacy Dean: Deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer service
  • Katherine Ferguson: Chief of staff
  • Sara Bleich: Senior adviser, COVID-19
Government Relations Report
NEW CA SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER 
California Senate Republicans yesterday announced that Sen. Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) was unanimously selected as Senate Republican Leader. He replaces Sen. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), who will be stepping down from the leadership post.  

“Thank you to my colleagues for their faith in my vision for leading our caucus,” Wilk said in a press release. “California is facing unprecedented challenges and Senate Republicans stand ready with solutions. For everyday Californians there is no greater priority than the pandemic – the health crisis it has created, its economic devastation and educational challenges for our students.” 
 
The leadership change came as a bit of a surprise, as Grove has six more years left in the Senate before she is termed out. Last week, while the riot was occurring in the U.S. Capitol, Grove tweeted antifa was to blame for that riot. She was widely criticized for her comment and deleted the tweet shortly after posting it.   
                      
Wilk was elected to a second term representing North Los Angeles County in November 2020. In the blue state that is California, Republicans hold nine of the 40 seats in the Senate. Wilk will assume his new position on Feb. 15. 
  

WHAT BECOMES OF FALLOWED AG LAND? 
Last week, AB 252 (R. Rivas, D-Hollister) was introduced to establish the Multibenefit Land Repurposing Incentive Program to provide grants to support multibenefit land repurposing. This program would focus on ag land that may become fallowed as a result of implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). 
 
Environmental groups argue (click on 5/11/20 link) that achieving SGMA’s goal of bringing groundwater use into balance will impact communities that are reliant on ag production. Those groups assert the state has a role to play in maximizing “ecosystem, habitat, flood protection, groundwater recharge and other public benefits” as ag land is converted to other uses.   
 
In that debate, ag groups are concerned with the potential conversion of productive ag land to parks or recreation areas after being idled by SGMA. Lawmakers need to recognize that agriculture is clearly a public benefit as well. If and when water becomes available, we would want these conversions to be reversed back to ag production. 
 
A similar measure sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund, AB 2642 (Salas, D-Bakersfield), was introduced last year but failed to move forward, in part because of high and unfunded costs of implementing the program.  

-Michael Miiller / michael@cawg.org / (916) 204-0485
REMINDER: Sign Up for Crop Insurance!
Many growers view crop insurance as their most important risk management tool. If you are planning to purchase winegrape crop insurance, you must sign up no later than Monday, Feb. 1 to have coverage for the 2021 crop year. For more information, visit the CAWG website or contact Pan American’s Greg Merrill (760) 485-0456 or Kristine Fox at (559) 381-8981.
Podcast: New Grape Disease Sensing Technology with Hyperspectral Imaging
The Vineyard Team’s Jan. 21 podcast features Katie Gold, assistant professor of plant pathology at Cornell AgriTech. She discusses grape disease sensing technology projects that detect diseases earlier. The latest research includes partnering with NASA to look at how dust currents can move pathogens across the globe to building autonomous robots to detect downy mildew and powdery mildew and to aide pruning decisions.

>PODCAST (24 minutes)
Tax Filing Season Begins Feb. 12
Tax season will start on Friday, Feb. 12, when the IRS will begin accepting and processing 2020 tax year returns. The Feb. 12 start date for individual tax return filers allows the IRS time to do additional programming and testing of IRS systems following the Dec. 27 tax law changes that provided a second round of economic impact payments and other benefits.

The Agriculture Tax Center on the IRS website offers helpful resources.


WILDFIRE & WATER
Quality Loss Assistance Now Available for Growers
USDA’s Farm Service Agency last week announced that eligible growers can now apply for the Quality Loss Adjustment (QLA) Program. The program will assist producers whose eligible crops suffered quality losses due to natural disasters, including wildfires and smoke, occurring in 2018 and 2019. The deadline to apply is March 5, 2021.

Former USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey said, “We have worked diligently over the past couple of years to roll out meaningful disaster assistance programs to help alleviate the substantial financial loss experienced by so many agricultural producers and are pleased to offer quality loss assistance as added relief. Many of the eligible producers have already received compensation for quantity losses.”

To learn more about QLA and eligibility requirements, visit the website, which includes frequently asked questions, a fact sheet, application assistance and other resources.
Reclamation Report: Water Reliability in the West
The Bureau of Reclamation this week released the 60-page Water Reliability in the West – The 2021 SECURE Water Act Report, which provides an assessment of climate change impacts and discusses changes and innovative actions underway in the eight major river basins in the West. California’s Klamath, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Truckee and Carson River Basins are identified in the report. Reclamation, the nation’s largest wholesale water supplier, operates 338 reservoirs and provides water to 140,000 Western farmers.

WEBINAR
Generate Cash Incentives for Charging Your Electric Material and Cargo Handling Equipment
WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 2 / 10 – 11 a.m.
HOSTS: CAWG and e-Mission Control 
ABOUT: You will learn how your company can participate in the California Air Resources Board’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program and start receiving incentive payments as early as April 2021. You will also hear about other vehicle and infrastructure funding opportunities, including rebate programs and grants.
 

ARTICLES OF INTEREST
January issue

Jon Moramarco presented his findings during the North Bay Business Journal’s online Wine Industry Conference.
Wine Business, Jan. 20

Commentary by Dan Walters.
CalMatters, Jan. 20

Ag Alert, Jan. 20

Two members are from the Fresno area.
Press release, Jan. 19

North Bay Business Journal, Jan. 15

UCANR news, Jan. 15

CALENDAR
JANUARY

22 / Webinar: The COVID-19 Vaccine—How it Will Impact Your Workplace and Business Operations

26-29 / Unified Wine & Grape Symposium - virtual


FEBRUARY

2 / CAWG & e-Mission Control Webinar: Generate cash incentives for charging your electric material and cargo handling equipment


APRIL

21 / CAWG Advocacy Day - virtual