Your source for CAWG and industry news
December 8, 2016

January 24-26, 2017
Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, Sacramento

January 25, 2017
WGA Leadership Luncheon, Sacramento

February 8-9, 2017
CAWG Leadership Forum, Sacramento

March 15, 2017
CAWG Winegrape Day in the Capitol, Sacramento

March 15, 2017
CAWG Foundation Wine Reception, Sacramento

March 16, 2017
CAWG Board of Directors meeting, Sacramento

May 7-9, 2017
National Grape & Wine Policy Conference, Washington, D.C. 

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CAWG Submits Comments to TTB on Controversial Wine Labeling Rule

In a five-page letter to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), CAWG urges the bureau to withdraw Notice No. 160 - Proposed Revisions to Wine Labeling and Recordkeeping Requirements - and engage the industry in dialog to craft a new, more balanced regulatory proposal. CAWG's letter of Dec. 7 noted, "California is home to many well-known, high value American viticultural areas (AVA) and it is reasonable to expect California AVA claims on wine labels should meet prevailing regulatory standards established by TTB and California. Industry operators and consumers have a direct interest in the accuracy of origin claims."
However, CAWG made clear the proposed rule threatened to "...harm the interests of a substantial number of California growers who sell and ship significant quantities of fresh California winegrapes to out-of-state wineries. We believe TTB underestimates the economic consequences of Notice No. 160." For that reason, CAWG is urging TTB to re-craft a regulatory solution that better addresses the original concerns that gave rise to Notice No. 160.

CAWG President John Aguirre writes about Notice No. 160 in the December issue of The Crush (in mailboxes soon).

House Passes Major Water Legislation

The House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a federal water bill that would provide key water projects to California. The vote was 360-61. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Earlier in the week the House and Senate reached an agreement on the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, formerly known as the Water Resources Development Act of 2016. The WIIN Act (S. 612) is comprehensive water legislation that addresses the needs of the nation's harbors, dams, flood protection and other water resources infrastructure. WIIN includes the Water Resources Development Act, which overwhelmingly passed the House in September.
Provisions address outdated statutes and policies to improve water storage and delivery in California and the West. Other provisions expand conservation, recreation and management of water and other natural resources. Elements related to providing drought relief include:
  • Expedites water storage and delivery and alternative water supply programs in the West to help drought-stricken communities.
  • Provides regulatory flexibility to capture more water in existing reservoirs during the wet months in California while not changing the Endangered Species Act.
For details about the legislation, read the summary posted on Sen. Dianne Feinstein's website.

WGA Survey: Ag Overtime Law Will Negatively Impact Farmworkers

The higher minimum wage and agricultural overtime costs will harm farmworkers, claims a recent survey by Western Growers Association (WGA) members. Following the passing of California's minimum wage and agricultural overtime laws this year, WGA conducted a survey of 148 California members to capture the business decisions they are now planning and the impact on farmworkers and farm businesses. Key findings include:
  • More than 80 percent of farms will cut back working hours for farmworkers.
  • On average, farmworkers will lose 15 hours of work and $180 in income per week.
  • Many farmworker jobs will be eliminated as farms will look for ways to reduce the need for labor.
  • Fewer than 10 percent of farms will be able to pass the added costs of minimum wage and agricultural overtime along to buyers.
  • Nearly one-third of farms plan to reduce benefits offered to their employees.

Scott Pruitt Tapped to Lead EPA

President-elect Donald Trump has selected Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt has battled the EPA in the past and led attorneys general from several states in filing a lawsuit challenging the waters of the U.S. rule. Said American Farm Bureau (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall, " President-elect Trump's selection of Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA is welcome news to America's farmers and ranchers - in fact, to all who are threatened by EPA's regulatory overreach - and should help provide a new degree of fairness for U.S. agriculture." 

USDA Report: Most American Farms are Family Farms

American agriculture is dominated by family farms, according to a report from USDA's Economic Research Service. In 2015, 99 percent of U.S. farms were family farms of various types, where the principal operator and his or her relatives owned the majority of the business. Small family farms (less than $350,000 in annual gross cash farm income or GCFI) accounted for about 90 percent of U.S. farms, half of all farmland and a quarter of the value of production. Midsize and large-scale family farms (at least $350,000 in GCFI), made up only 9 percent of U.S. farms, but contributed most of the value of production (65 percent). Over the past 25 years, production has shifted to midsize and large-scale farms.


Op ed by former Rep. Larry Combest (R-TX).
The Hill, Dec. 6
Grapevine pinot gris virus (GPGV) has been detected in vineyards in 14 locations in Napa County, but not in other California vineyard locations to date, based on initial findings from a statewide survey started in 2016.
Wines & Vines, Dec. 5
One rural appraiser thinks the lower nut prices could help slow the conversion of vineyards to orchards in the Central Valley, at least in the short term.
Western Farm Press, Dec. 5
Hundreds of people turned out on Dec. 1 to urge state officials to increase restrictions on the use of ag pesticides near schools. Over a dozen growers also attended, concerned about DPR's proposal.
KCBX, Dec. 2

Statewide Water Conservation Exceeds 19 Percent in October

According to a State Water Resources Control Board press release , statewide water savings for October was 19.5 percent, an increase from September's 18.3 percent, but below the 22.3 percent in October 2015. Since June 2015, Californians have saved 736 billion gallons (2.26 million acre-feet), which equates to a 17-month cumulative savings of 22.8 percent. Substantial October and November rains in Northern California provided an encouraging start to the 2016-2017 water year (Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017), but 73 percent of the state remains in drought conditions. 

Organization Launches "Stop Starving Farms and Wildlife" Campaign

The Pacific Legal Foundation has unveiled a new public information campaign that focuses on San Joaquin Valley water reductions and the impact on numerous species on the Endangered Species Act. The campaign claims that federal officials have imposed water delivery reductions while focusing only on the Delta smelt and salmon and not other protected species that rely on irrigated farmland.  

Water Articles and Resources
Western Regional Climate Center - November in the West
California regulators say their proposal to devote more flows from the state's major rivers to fish and wildlife is an attempt to balance competing interests for a scarce resource. So far, all they've done is get practically everyone mad at them.
Sacramento Bee, Nov. 29

Reminder: Employers Required to Electronically File and Pay to EDD

With the new E-file and E-pay mandate (AB 1245), employers will soon be required to electronically submit employment tax returns, wage reports and payroll tax deposits to the Employment Development Department (EDD). AB 1245 will be phased-in over a two-year period: Jan. 1, 2017 for employers with 10 or more employees and Jan. 1, 2018 for all employers. Information, tutorials, materials and other resources are available online.

Researchers Investigating Increase of Pierce's Disease in North Coast

Responding to concerns from North Coast winegrape growers, the PD/GWSS Board commissioned University of California researchers and farm advisors to investigate the increases in Pierce's disease in the region. The PD/GWSS Board posted a new 3-minute video on YouTube that describes the ongoing research.

Have You Registered for Unified? Are You Considering an Ad or Sponsorship Opportunity?  

Promote your business/brand, stand above the competition and increase your visibility to THOUSANDS of attendees at Unified! Valuable opportunities are still available - but don't delay and miss out! Visit the Unified website or discuss opportunities with Jenny Devine at (916) 379-8995.

REGISTRATION:  To register by phone, call 888-559-9530 or 781-688-8229. ** If you are a CAWG member and need your Unified code, contact CAWG at 916-379-8995** Members receive a $200 discount before Jan. 17. 

PROGRAM:  Click on the link to see updated session information.

LODGING:  Hotel information and FAQs are posted on Unified's website. Attendees may also visit the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau website for additional hotels. 

Spread the Word: CAWG Foundation Scholarship Applications Available

Each year the CAWG Foundation awards two 4-year scholarships ($8,000 each) to students planning to attend a campus in the University of California or California State University system, and four 2-year scholarships ($2,000 each) to students planning to attend a California community college. The Robert Miller Memorial Scholarship is awarded to a Central Coast student who plans to major in enology or viticulture at Allan Hancock College or Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Scholarships are awarded to high school seniors whose parent or legal guardian is employed by a California winegrape grower.  The application deadline is March 24, 2017. Please share the information and link with your employees.

Shop AmazonSmile and Support the CAWG Foundation

Holiday shopping days are here! AmazonSmile is a simple way for you to support the CAWG Foundation, at no extra cost to you.  When you shop, Amazon will donate 0.5 percent of the purchase price to the foundation . Eligible products are marked "Eligible for AmazonSmile donation" on their product detail pages. 

2016 Pierce's Disease Research Symposium

This event draws researchers from around the world, with the goal of finding solutions to Pierce's disease and its vectors. The symposium will also include reports and presentations on other winegrape pests and diseases. It is a valuable event for researchers and winegrape growers to interact and find out about the latest research and activities. 
WHEN: Dec. 13-14

WHERE: San Diego