March 12, 2020
YOUR SOURCE FOR CAWG AND INDUSTRY NEWS. FOR CAWG MEMBERS ONLY.
TOP NEWS ITEMS
Due to ongoing concerns related to COVID-19, next week’s CAWG events in Sacramento have been cancelled. Several industry organizations are cancelling their upcoming Sacramento events as well. CDFA’s Ag Day, which was set for March 18, has also been cancelled .
 
The COVID-19 situation is fluid and new developments, restrictions or closures continue to roll out. President Trump addressed the nation last night and urged a variety of measures, including social distancing. Gov. Newsom also urged organizations to cancel or postpone “non-essential” events. SEE COVID-19 RESOURCE LINKS BELOW.
 
Additionally, the Senate Rules Committee has advised senators and staff to limit in-person interactions. “ Instead of physical meetings with constituents, lobbyists, advocates and others, consider offering conference calls or utilizing...alternative technology platforms .” 
 
Some legislators are already refusing face-to-face meetings with the public and are doing only conference call meetings instead. Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times questioned how much longer the California State Capitol will be open for business as usual.  
 
We thank everyone who volunteered to participate and apologize for any inconvenience these cancellations may have caused. We look forward to next year’s events and will communicate future dates once they have been scheduled.
Government Relations Report
CORONAVIRUS AND PUBLIC AGENCIES
As  California’s response to the coronavirus  continues to evolve, there may be a reduction in the availability of public services relied upon by growers. Guidance from public officials in response to COVID-19, such as social distancing and eliminating large non-essential events , may result in the temporary closure of some public agencies, meaning those services may not be available for a while.
 
This is because many public agencies work in office buildings that house several hundred employees. In these buildings, those workers share workspace, conference rooms, ventilation systems, restrooms, cafeterias, etc. For example, the Department of Food and Agriculture employs more than 2,000 workers. County ag commissioners and USDA also have a large workforce in California and work in public office buildings.
 
As sporting events, concerts and other events are cancelled, it seems likely public officials will turn their focus toward large office buildings and public agencies. Today, the Assembly Republican caucus asked Gov. Newsom to authorize state employees to work from home.
 
Additionally, regulatory agencies are currently reevaluating how they hold public meetings and allow public participation. For example, hearings and stakeholder meetings of Cal/OSHA Health and Safety Standards Board, State Water Resources Control Board, and other agencies often include a few hundred people in attendance. Regulatory agencies are currently considering electronic remote meetings and other methods of public participation. 
 

BROADBAND IN AG LAND
An estimated 1.4 million Californians lack access to wired broadband internet at any speed. California ag communities are reported to have some of the  slowest internet speeds  in the country. 
 
Unfortunately, the efforts to address this problem have been as slow as the internet speed in those communities. However, there is recent and growing reason for hope.
 
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on March 11 announced that his office  reached a settlement with T-Mobile  and California won’t appeal a district court judge’s decision to allow the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. The settlement agreement includes a commitment to extend access to telecom services for rural communities.
 
Additionally, Gov. Newsom is pursuing a  Broadband for All initiative . Lenny Mendonca, the governor's chief economic and business advisor and director of the Office of Business and Economic Development, will be heading the effort, which he described as “advancing digital equity.”
 
The USDA is also piloting the  ReConnect program , which has now offered nearly half of its $600 million in funds to rural businesses for investing in high-speed internet. While touring California last summer, USDA Secretary Sonny Purdue called broadband “a transformational opportunity” and said, “We’re all for it.”
 
Let’s hope that these combined efforts will result in much-needed focus and funding in rural communities who need high speed broadband.


-Michael Miiller / michael@cawg.org / 916-379-8995
COVID-19 Resources and Information
Grape Crush Report Final 2019
Stats-at-a-Glance
  • Winegrape crush totaled 3,919,146 tons, down from the 2018 crush of 4,281,111 tons. 
  • Red wine varieties accounted for the largest share of all grapes crushed, at 2,157,061 tons, down 11.9 percent from 2018.
  • The 2019 white wine variety crush totaled 1,762,085 tons, down 3.9 percent from 2018.
  • Average prices for the 2019 crop: Red winegrapes, $1,019.56, nearly the same as 2018. White winegrapes, $589.54, down 7.2 percent from 2018.
  • Leading grape varieties crushed were chardonnay (15.6 percent), cabernet sauvignon (14.1 percent), zinfandel (8.5 percent), French colombard (7.8 percent), pinot noir (6.5 percent), rubired (6.1 percent), pinot gris (6 percent), merlot (5.4 percent) and muscat of Alexandria (4.7 percent).
  • The 2019 chardonnay price of $912.72 was down 6.0 percent from 2018 and the cabernet sauvignon price of $1,769.32 was up 5.1 percent from 2018. The 2019 average price for zinfandel was $583.42, down 2.7 percent from 2018, while the pinot noir average price was down 6.3 percent from 2018 at $1,570.59 per ton.
  • Grapes produced in District 4 (Napa County) received the highest average price of $5,769.31 per ton, up 3.4 percent from 2018. District 3 (Sonoma and Marin counties) received the second highest return of $2,845.92, up 1.0 percent from 2018.

H-2A Brief Published by Cato Institute
An immigration research and policy brief titled, “ H-2A Visas for Agriculture: The Complex Process for Farmers to Hire Agricultural Guest Workers ,” was published this week by the Cato Institute. It was written by David Bier, an immigration policy analyst with the public policy organization. According to his summary, it provides basic facts about the H‑2A visa program, a massive table of the 209 major H‑2A rules that farmers must follow, and a flow chart of the H‑2A process that contains 69 action boxes.
Legislators Seek Clarity for Ag Commodity Definition Pertaining to Trucking
More than 30 Congressional representatives – including some from California – are seeking clarification on the definition of “agricultural commodity” associated with regulatory changes around the use of the electronic logging device. On March 4, they sent a letter to transportation subcommittee leaders  requesting the inclusion of more specific language. “We strongly urge the committee to include this language as part of FY2021 appropriations to provide clarity for drivers, farmers and enforcement officers,” the letter states. Without this clarification, long-recognized agricultural commodities -- such as nursery and greenhouse production -- remain in limbo.
NRCS Seeks Applicants for Ag Conservation Easement Program
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for the  Agricultural Conservation Easement Program  (ACEP). ACEP provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve ag lands and wetlands and their benefits. Under the  Agricultural Land Easements  component, NRCS helps Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations protect working ag lands and limit non-ag uses of the land. Under the  Wetland Reserve Easements  component, NRCS helps to restore, protect and enhance enrolled wetlands. Applications are due by April 10.
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WATER
Central Valley Water Bill Passed by House Natural Resources Committee
The House Natural Resources Committee on March 11 passed the  Securing Access for the Central Valley and Enhancing (SAVE) Water Resources Act  on a vote of 19-12. The next step is a full House vote. The bill, introduced in 2019 by California Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock), aims to improve water storage projects, spur innovation and invest millions of dollars in aging water infrastructure.

> BILL HIGHLIGHTS (one page)


ARTICLES OF INTEREST
VINEYARDS & WINE

Merced Sun-Star, March 12
                            
Wine Business, March 10

Penn State developing management techniques for invasive pest.
Good Fruit Grower, March 10

Research paper by Cornell University’s Viticulture and Enology Program.
Appellation Cornell newsletter, March issue

Packaged imports grow +6.70% by value over last 12 months through January 2020; packaged exports decline -3.20%.
Bw166, March 10


WATER

Public Policy Institute of California, Feb. 11

INDUSTRY EVENTS
On the Road in San Joaquin County

Presented by UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology

WHEN : March 17 / 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Burgundy Hall, Lodi


Upcoming Conference: Farm Labor 2020 - Technology, H-2A and Immigration

WHEN: March 20 / CANCELLED


Lodi Mealybug and Virus Outreach Meeting
This event is the result of intense studies by Lodi’s Mealybug Biocontrol and Grapevine Virus Research Focus Groups, which discuss strategies to solve mealybug and virus challenges. It is part of an outreach grant funded by the American Vineyard Foundation and the PD/GWSS Board.

WHEN: April 9 / 8:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
WHERE: Cabral Ag Center, 2101 E Earhart Ave, Stockton

CALENDAR
MARCH
18 / CAWG Day in the Capitol, Sacramento CANCELLED
18 / CAWG Foundation Gala, Sacramento CANCELLED
19 / CAWG Board of Directors meeting, Sacramento 

MAY
12 / CAWG Annual Meeting Roadshow #1, Buellton
13 / CAWG Annual Meeting Roadshow #2, Paso Robles
13 / CAWG Regional & Board of Directors dinner, Paso Robles
14 / CAWG Board of Directors meeting, Paso Robles

JUNE
17 / CAWG Annual Meeting Roadshow #3, Santa Rosa
17 / CAWG Annual Meeting Roadshow #4, Napa
23 / CAWG Foundation Golf Tournament , Woodbridge Golf & Country Club
24 / CAWG Annual Meeting Roadshow #5, Lodi

JULY
20 / CAWG Regional & Board of Directors dinner, Santa Rosa
21 / CAWG Board of Directors meeting, Santa Rosa