FEBRUARY 21, 2019
Clarification and Guidance Regarding Produce Safety Rule Letter and Questionnaire Sent to Winegrape Growers
Many California winegrape growers received a  letter and questionnaire from the California Department of Agriculture (CDFA) , dated Feb. 11, concerning forthcoming compliance activities related to the federal Produce Safety Rule (PSR). The letter and questionnaire -- which asks about growers’ annual average sales, produce safety training, a food safety plan and a food safety audit scheme – have caused confusion among winegrape growers since winegrapes used for processing into wine are exempt from the PSR. CAWG worked with Congress to secure this exemption.
CAWG contacted a CDFA official responsible for promoting California growers’ compliance with the PSR to gain clarification on the issue. As a result of that effort, CAWG believes growers who only grow winegrapes may elect to provide a more limited response to the questionnaire.
Growers of winegrape varieties that are grown, harvested and used solely for wine and receive commercial processing may choose to only provide their name, farm name, work phone, cell phone, email and a list of winegrape varieties produced. CDFA advised CAWG that a winegrape grower may simply list on the questionnaire the winegrape varieties produced.
However, a winegrape grower who also grows other commodities covered under the PSR should fill out the questionnaire in full. Generally, covered commodities would include those commodities that are consumed fresh or that fail to receive processing that reduces risks of illness from microbial hazards (i.e., bagged salads, fresh unpasteurized juice, etc.). For more information on covered commodities visit  CDFA’s Produce Safety Program website .
If you grow grapes that are recognized as having use as fresh table grapes or raisins, then you should fill out the questionnaire in full. The winegrape exemption from the PSR only applies to grape varieties recognized as of a wine-type. So, Thompson seedless, which has historically been used for multiple purposes, would not be an exempt wine-type variety under the PSR. 
The congressional exemption secured by CAWG for winegrapes was included in the conference report for H.J. Res 31, which was signed into law by President Trump on Feb. 15. That exemption reads as follows (underline added):
SEC. 758. None of the funds made available by this or any other Act may be used to enforce the final rule promulgated by the Food and Drug Administration entitled "Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption," and published on November 27, 2015, with respect to the regulation of the production, distribution, sale, or receipt of  grape varietals that are grown, harvested and used solely for wine and receive commercial processing  that adequately reduces the presence of microorganisms of public health significance.
Government Relations Report
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is in the process of developing  regulations to prevent heat illness in indoor workplaces . For more than a year, CAWG has participated in a California Chamber of Commerce-led coalition that  submitted written comments  and oral testimony at each step of the process.  
The coalition has encouraged  Cal/OSHA  to establish rational policies that are not unnecessarily burdensome on employers while minimizing the risk of heat illness to workers in indoor workplaces. A new draft of the proposed regulations was released on Jan. 28. Relative to growers, below are three primary concerns with the  current draft of the proposed regulation :
  • Ag employers have both outdoor and indoor workplaces, with some or all employees transitioning between both. Employers with both indoor and outdoor workplaces must be allowed to comply by integrating the plans into one heat illness prevention plan.
  • The proposed regulation defines “indoor” essentially as a space under a ceiling and enclosed along its perimeter. This definition would include structures with chain link fences, guardrails or partial walls along perimeters. A clear and specific definition is needed so that employers know whether Cal/OSHA classifies a workplace as indoor or outdoor.
  • Currently forklifts and air-conditioned trucks, buses and tractors would be classified as indoors. Vehicles and equipment should be excluded.
CAWG will continue working on this proposed regulation and provide updates as things progress.

-Michael Miiller / michael@cawg.org / 916-379-8995
Pass USMCA Coalition, Website Formed
In an effort to ensure the quick passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a group consisting of trade associations, businesses and advocacy groups last week launched the Pass USMCA Coalition. The bipartisan coalition -- led by Republican Rick Dearborn and former Washington Democratic Gov. Gary Locke -- “is working to ensure that members of Congress hear and learn from people and groups who recognize that the USMCA is a huge victory for America’s workers, consumers, businesses and economy.” The website includes a link to join the coalition.

Proposed West Sonoma Coast AVA Comment Period Reopened
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) on Feb. 12 reopened the public comment period for the proposed West Sonoma Coast AVA, with comments now due by April 15. The previous due date was Feb. 4, but TTB decided to reopen the comment period in response to requests from several wine industry members.

US Senate Ag Committee to Hold Full Hearing on Farm Bill Implementation
U.S. Senate Ag Committee leaders announced the full committee will hold a hearing titled, “Implementing the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018” featuring USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. Tune in to watch the live video on Feb. 28 at 9:30 a.m. The hearing will take place two days after a  USDA listening session in Washington, D.C. to gather input from the public on implementation of the farm bill.

Unified Symposium Surveys, Presentations and 2020 Location
CONFERENCE SURVEY : Your input is extremely valuable to help plan sessions for next year’s event. Please take time to complete the online surveys.

SPEAKER PRESENTATIONS : View the selection of speaker presentations (most are PowerPoint).
AUDIO RECORDINGS : Download order form for audio recordings of sessions. 

The 2020 symposium will be Feb. 4-6 at Cal Expo in Sacramento while the Sacramento Convention Center undergoes a large-scale renovation

California Water Allocations Up Due to Above Average Precipitation
>CENTRAL VALLEY PROJECT (CVP): The  Bureau of Reclamation announced the initial 2019 water supply allocation for many CVP contractors: 

  • Ag water service contractors North-of-Delta allocated 70 percent of their contract supply.
  • Ag water service contractors South-of-Delta allocated 35 percent of their contract supply.
  • Eastside water service contractors will receive 100 percent of their contract total.
  • Friant Division (read details in press release)

>STATE WATER PROJECT (SWP): The  Department of Water Resources announced that SWP contractors south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will receive 35 percent of their requests for the 2019 calendar year, up from last month’s 15 percent allocation. Allocations are reviewed monthly based on snowpack and runoff information and are typically finalized by May.
Free Event: Water and the Future of SJV
Authors of a new Public Policy Institute of California study and a group of experts will discuss key issues and solutions to some of the San Joaquin Valley’s looming challenges. The event is co-hosted by the Fresno State  California Water Institute  and the PPIC Water Policy Center. 

WHEN: Feb. 22 / 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Fresno State – Satellite Student Union
Includes light breakfast and lunch

> REGISTER (to attend or watch webcast)

New Study on Grapevine Red Blotch
Researchers from UC Davis entities, UC Cooperative Extension and Fresno State collaborated on a grapevine red blotch virus (GRBV) study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The aim of the study was to perform a physiological characterization of GRBV infected grapevine (cabernet sauvignon) with special attention to the factors leading to inadequate grape ripening, from carbon fixation to changes in grape composition, in two rootstocks (110R and 420A) regarded to impart different growing patterns. Researchers “dispel some myths about the effects of this disease from a mechanistic point applying principles of whole plant physiology aided with HPLC analysis.” Among the groups providing funding for the study were American Vineyard Foundation and Allied Grape Growers.


CAWG Foundation Scholarship Applications Due March 8
Each year the CAWG Foundation awards scholarships to several high school seniors whose parents or legal guardians are employed by California winegrape growers.  The application deadline is March 8 . Please share the information and link with your employees. Since the program's inception in 1998, the foundation has awarded $433,000 in scholarships.

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Vineyards & Wine
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Press release, Feb. 21

Rabobank’s Charles Day, Silicon Valley Bank’s Rob McMillan and Turrentine Brokerage’s Steve Fredericks are interviewed.
North Bay Business Journal, Feb. 19
Op-ed from a specialty crop grower in Washington.
Wenatchee World, Feb. 18
Op-ed about California’s proposed indoor heat illness regulations.
CalChamber, Feb. 19

CalChamber, Feb. 19

Current Wine and Winegrape Research
This forum is a full day of brief, 20-minute presentations by researchers describing their current projects on grapevine breeding and evaluation, cultural practices, disease and pest control, and enology.

WHEN: Feb. 27 / 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
WHERE: UC Davis Conference Center, 550 Alumni Lane

SJVWA Grower Educational Field Day
WHEN: March 6 / 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., followed by lunch
WHERE: Mission Bell Winery, 12667 Road 24, Madera
TOPICS: Powdery mildew and rot prevention, reading/interpreting soil and petiole reports, grapevine virus, and calibrating spray equipment to reduce drift.

UCD Viticulture and Enology On the Road in Monterey County
WHEN: March 8 / 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: 1432 Abbott Street, Salinas
TOPICS: Professors and UCCE specialists will cover: managing vector spread/virus disease of grape, effects of red blotch virus on wine quality, understanding how grapevine roots respond and recover, current and future objectives of the UCD grapevine breeding program, and precision agriculture. 

February 26
CAWG Board of Directors meeting, Sacramento 

April 10
CAWG Day in the Capitol, Sacramento

April 10
CAWG Foundation Wine Reception, Sacramento

April 11
CAWG Board of Directors meeting, Sacramento

June 24
CAWG Board of Directors meeting, Sonoma

June 25
CAWG Summer Conference, Sonoma

June 25
CAWG Awards of Excellence Program and Dinner, Sonoma

June 26
CAWG PAC Golf Tournament, Sonoma