January 9, 2020
In Memoriam:
Founding CAWG Chair Richard Keehn
We are saddened to share that Richard Keehn, a founding member of CAWG and the first chair of our board of directors, passed away on Dec. 20, 2019. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. Richard served as CAWG’s chair for four years (1974-1978) and as a director for seven years. He was the recipient of the 2014 CAWG Leader of the Year Award. We invite you to read our press release and his obituary for more information about his life, career and accomplishments. The family has kindly designated the CAWG Foundation (scholarship fund) as one of two organizations to receive donations in his honor. 
Proposal to Modernize Decades-Old Environmental Law Intends to Help Farmers, Communities
The Trump administration is proposing sweeping changes to a major environmental law – the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) – in an effort to ease burdensome regulations. “Modernizing environmental regulations will help bring new infrastructure projects to our communities that benefit American workers, farmers and families,” said a White House statement. The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register on Jan. 10 (docket ID No. CEQ-2019-0003). Public comments are due before March 10.

NEPA requires all federal agencies – including USDA and its agencies – to consider the environmental impacts of their projects and programs. For example, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service programs are administered in accordance with the law. NEPA encompasses projects involving the construction of roads, bridges, highways, and airports; conventional and renewable energy production and distribution; electricity transmission; farmland protection; water infrastructure and more.

Government Relations Report
In 1970, Gov. Ronald Reagan signed legislation into law creating the  California Environmental Quality Act  (CEQA). The Natural Resources Agency describes CEQA as a law that “requires state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible.” CEQA applies to construction of roads, canals, dams, housing and much more.
Almost every year since CEQA became law, the California Legislature has considered efforts to exempt specific project or types of projects from CEQA. These proposed exemptions have included sports arenas, affordable housing, emergency construction after earthquakes, and more. The reasons for these proposed exemptions is the immediate need for the project and the significant delays CEQA creates, which impede the timely construction of the project. 
There is no doubt that these reasons are based in reality. As an example, this week,  AB 1907  (Santiago, D-Los Angeles) was introduced to exempt emergency shelters, supportive housing or affordable housing projects from CEQA. The bill states, “It is the intent of the Legislature to help local governments address their homeless crises by facilitating the construction of high-quality permanent supportive housing.” To accomplish this objective, the bill exempts construction of that housing from CEQA.
In 2016, the  LA Times wrote , “CEQA is…a woefully blunt instrument that thwarts economic growth and, perversely, can actually harm the environment.” Instead of looking at specific exemptions, perhaps it is time to take a critical look at how CEQA works more broadly and address how CEQA is problematic for valuable and much needed construction.

-Michael Miiller / michael@cawg.org / 916-379-8995
Coalition Urges Senate Action on Dire Ag Labor Situation
The Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC), a group of organizations representing the needs of American ag employers, last week pressed U.S. Senate leaders for a legislative solution to the ag labor crisis. In a letter, AWC addressed the dire labor situation facing ag producers, the H-2A program and the impact of the adverse effect wage rate (AEWR), which went into effect on Jan. 2. The 2020 AEWR for California is $14.77 per hour.

2019 PDCP Research Progress Reports Now Available
The Pierce’s Disease Control Program has issued a 325-page document with reports and abstracts on Pierce’s disease, glassy-winged sharpshooter, and other pests and diseases of winegrapes. According to the PD/GWSS Board, the continued support of winegrape growers has made possible the funding of over $45 million in research and outreach projects since 2001.

Reminder: Chlorpyrifos Alternatives Workshops This Month
The California Department of Food and Agriculture and California Department of Pesticide Regulation are hosting three upcoming public workshops to gather input on sustainable alternatives to chlorpyrifos. Dates/locations are Jan. 14 in Fresno, Jan. 16 in Sacramento and Jan. 21 in Oxnard. 

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CAWG's preferred partner for insurance products for more than 20 years. Group workers' comp, wine industry package, federal crop insurance, employee benefits...and more. For more information: 209-955-2600 or  email .
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Sponsorships and Advertising Are Still Available!
Below are some of the remaining opportunities. For more information about these or other opportunities, contact Jenny Devine at  jenny@cawg.org  or 916-379-8995.

  • Keynote speaker luncheon table sponsor: $1,500
  • Lanyard sponsor: $10,000
  • Regional wine tasting sponsor: $2,000
  • Welcome reception hors d’oeuvres sponsor (two remaining): $3,500
  • General session coffee break (Thursday a.m. general session): $5,000
  • Prominent outside magnetic banner: $7,500

Keynote Speaker: Jeff O'Neill
Jeff O'Neill, CEO and founder of O’Neill Vintners & Distillers, will deliver the keynote address on Feb. 4 ( separate registration / $75 for CAWG members ). In the last six years, O’Neill has led dramatic growth by entering the consumer branded business with much success – surpassing 1 million 9L cases sold in 2019. His candid talk will explore the many challenges and opportunities facing the wine industry today, including consolidation, consumer trend shifts, increased competition and more.
WGA Leadership Luncheon and Rich Smith Award Presentation
Dr. Jean-Marie Cardebat, full professor of economics at the University of Bordeaux, is the keynote speaker at the Winegrape Growers of America Leadership Luncheon (held during Unified). The event will also include a presentation honoring the recipient of the Rich Smith Distinguished Service Award.

The event is open to CAWG members and their guests.

WHEN: Wednesday, Feb. 5 / 11:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
WHERE: Cal Expo, Club House, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento

California Agencies Release Draft Water Resilience Portfolio; Comments Sought
I n April 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order directing the California Natural Resources Agency, California Department of Food and Agriculture and California EPA to prepare a comprehensive water resilience portfolio that “meets the needs of California’s communities, economy and environment through the 21st century.” The agencies were also directed to inventory and assess water supply and demand, water quality, anticipated impacts, and policies and programs. The draft portfolio was released on Jan. 3 and outlines more than 100 integrated actionable recommendations to help regions build water resilience.

Recent Webinars
Recordings are available online :

  • Jan. 7 / Employment Law Changes in 2020
  • Dec. 4 / Crop Insurance 101: Federal crop insurance program
  • Dec. 11 / Crop Insurance 102: Fires, floods and natural disasters
  • Dec. 18 / Whole-farm revenue protection

CAWG + LDGGA Breakfast Meeting
Winegrape Contracts: Language and Enforcement
WHEN: Jan. 21 / 8:30 a.m. (registration, pastries, coffee), 9-11 a.m. (meeting)
WHERE: Burgundy Hall, Lodi Grape Festival Grounds
PRESENTED BY: Dale Stern (Downey Brand) and CDFA Market Enforcement Branch 

Sonoma Grower Meeting: Tax Laws

HOSTS: CAWG, Sonoma County Winegrowers and the Sonoma County Farm Bureau
WHEN: Jan. 24
WHERE: Sonoma County Farm Bureau, 3589 Westwind Blvd., Santa Rosa
PRESENTED BY: Robert Murphy and Henrietta Bodi, Frank Rimerman + Co LLP
TOPICS: Important tax factors that directly impact ag businesses and families, as well as tax-related deductions for those impacted by recent wildfires. Several other topics will be discussed, and CAWG will also give a state and federal update.
Wine regions in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria have been affected.
Wine Enthusiast, Jan. 8

Napa Valley Register, Jan. 7

Washington Post, Jan. 3

John Roncoroni, UC Cooperative Extension weed science farm advisor and UCIPM affiliate advisor in Napa County. 
Vineyard Team, Jan. 2

California Ag Today, Dec. 27



University of California Grape Day
WHEN: Jan. 21 / 9 a.m. to approx. 4 p.m.
WHERE: UC Davis Conference Center, 550 Alumni Lane, Davis

Following the session, there will be a comparative tasting of no-touch cabernet sauvignon vs. modified VSP hand-farmed cabernet sauvignon.