April 4, 2019
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Government Relations Report
In April 2007, the State Water Resources Control Board began its formal efforts to create a  Wetland and Riparian Area Protection Proposed Policy . This week – 12 years later -- the board  approved  its State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State ( WOTS ). 
From the very beginning, board staff and board members have stated they never intended for WOTS to apply to ag. However, and to the contrary, the several versions of the proposed regulation all included loopholes, ambiguities, uncertainty, contradictions and subjective technical language that would have required growers to engage in a lengthy and costly permit process for routine annual vineyard activities.
The board’s stated intent to not apply WOTS to ag was finally realized in late March and was formally approved this week. After intense efforts by CAWG and our ag industry partners, especially in the last three months, WOTS was amended to include CAWG-requested language to protect ag. These protections include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Prior converted croplands are exempt from WOTS.
  • Ag ditches and irrigated ag features are exempt from WOTS.
  • WOTS will be applied consistent with federal procedures.
  • Ag will participate in the development of guidelines for how WOTS will be implemented, applied and enforced by regional water boards.
  • Implementation of WOTS will be closely monitored and an annual report will be prepared in consultation with stakeholders, including the ag industry.
If WOTS did not include these protections, the effects on growers could have been catastrophic.
From the beginning, winegrape grower and former CAWG board member Brad Goehring has been working closely with CAWG staff and our ag partners on this proposal. He was recently featured in a  San Francisco Chronicle article  about WOTS. Goehring’s engagement was instrumental in obtaining critical protections for ag, and CAWG thanks him for his efforts.

-Michael Miiller / michael@cawg.org / 916-379-8995
CalChamber Releases 2019 Job Killer List
The California Chamber of Commerce this week released its annual  Job Killer list , which includes 24 bills that the organization claims would harm California’s economic growth and job creation if they become law. CalChamber tracks the bills throughout the legislative session and educates legislators about the serious consequences these bills will have on the state.
2019 California Green Medal Award Winners Announced
Congratulations to the recipients of the fifth annual California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards, to be presented at a May 1 ceremony at CDFA. Awardees were Silver Oak Cellars (Leader Award), Scheid Family Wines (Environment Award), Smith Family Wines (Community Award) and Domaine Carneros (Business Award). The awards recognize vineyards and/or wineries that excel in sustainability, and they are presented by CAWG, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, Wine Institute, Lodi Winegrape Commission, Napa Valley Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrowers and the Vineyard Team. 

CAWG Member Receives 2019 Environmental Award
Congratulations to CAWG member Halter Ranch Vineyard on being honored by the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance with the  2019 Environmental Award . The award spotlights a business that has done the most to run an environmentally conscious operation. Halter Ranch Vineyard has been SIP Certified since 2008. 
$13.5B Disaster Aid Package Fails in U.S. Senate
Earlier this week, legislators  failed to advance a bipartisan disaster relief bill due to fighting over financial assistance for Puerto Rico. The bill would have provided funding for Californians that were affected by wildfires, as well as other states affected by natural disasters. Bill sponsor Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) said in a statement, “We are still negotiating and working on it. We’ll find some way to get disaster relief to the Senate floor. We have to make sure it can pass the House as well.”
House Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on Ag Labor
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship this week held its first hearing of the 116th Congress – titled “Securing the Future of American Agriculture.” Witnesses included Tom Nassif, Western Growers Association; Arturo Rodriguez, formerly with United Farm Workers; Areli Arteaga, former farmworker; and Bill Brim, Lewis Taylor Farms.  In his testimony, Nassif said , “To succeed in resolving a decades-long effort to correct the immigration mistakes of the past and present, we need a bipartisan bill that would have a reasonable chance of being signed by the president.”  

New USDA Online Resources Help Farmers with H-2A Process, Farm Loans
The website farmers.gov, operated by USDA, now includes an  H-2A visa program page  and  interactive checklist tool , with application requirements, fees, forms and a timeline built around a farmer’s hiring needs. In the coming months, the agency will collaborate further with the U.S. Department of Labor on a second phase. Another new feature on the  self-service website enables farmers to log in to view loan information, history and payments. Users will need to create an account.

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DWR: 'This Year is Practically a California Water Supply Dream'
Officials on Tuesday measured California's snowpack for the fourth time this year at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada. The manual survey at the site recorded 106.5 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 51 inches. Statewide, the Sierra snowpack is 162 percent of average for this date. According to the Department of Water Resources, California has experienced more than 30 atmospheric rivers since the start of the water year – six in February – and statewide snow water equivalent has nearly tripled since Feb. 1. 

Oroville Spillway Back in Action
DWR began to release flows at 11 a.m. on April 2 from the  Oroville main spillway , the first time since it collapsed two years ago. The agency posted a video with amazing aerial footage – starting from the moment water was first released. Spillway releases had increased to 10,800 cubic feet per second on April 3.  Photo credit: DWR.

Call 811 Before You Dig! April is National Safe Digging Month
Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in serious injuries, service disruptions and costly repairs when gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines are damaged. Calling 811 is the most important step before you dig.  

Vineyards & Wine
The agreement includes the purchase of more than 30 wine and spirits brands, along with six winemaking facilities in California, Washington and New York.
Press release, April 3

April 3

April 3

Article on Santa Cruz Mountains AVA features CAWG member Cooper-Garrod Vineyards.
Vine Pair, March 31
AFBF does not want enforcement efforts to adversely affect ag producers.
Press release, April 3

2019 National Winegrape Policy Conference: Early Bird Registration Ends April 19
The 2019 National Winegrape Policy Conference is slated for May 20-22 at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, D.C. The conference will begin on May 20 with an evening reception. May 21 will feature sessions, speakers and Capitol Hill visits. The final day will include a breakfast meeting and addition Capitol Hill visits. Early bird registration ($395) ends April 19.

PD/GWSS Board and PD Advisory Task Force Meeting
Open to the public.  Meeting agenda to come .

WHEN: April 29 / 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
WHERE: CDFA, 2800 Gateway Oaks Drive (Room 267), Sacramento
UC Davis Grapevine Water Management Short Course
WHEN: May 22-23
WHERE: Oxford Suites, 67 Golf Course Drive West, Rohnert Park

April 10
CAWG Day in the Capitol, Sacramento

April 10
CAWG Foundation Gala, 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 Foundation Golf Tournament, Sonoma