September 10, 2020
USDA Risk Management Agency Releases Wildfire Crop Insurance FAQs
USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) recently posted FAQs on wildfires and smoke exposure, which broadens the acceptable testing requirements for crop claims.

The RMA directive now states: “Lab tests must be performed by an independent lab, accredited lab, or other credible source (e.g., winery lab with the resources to perform such a test). Documentation must indicate the location of the field, the results of the test (may be attached), the lab name, and any accreditations that would indicate the lab/chemist was qualified to perform the appropriate test, such as by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.”

This new directive comes after a strong push from Pan American Insurance – with support from CAWG – for the RMA to provide clarity and guidance to crop insurance carriers regarding testing requirements. 

Media Coverage for CAWG Statement
CAWG’s Sept. 3 statement on smoke exposure events, winegrapes and wineries was picked up by numerous media outlets. Below are some of the articles:

AgNet West, Sept. 9

Food & Wine, Sept. 8

Wine-Searcher, Sept. 8

The Drinks Business, Sept. 8

Wine Business, Sept. 4

Urge Congress to Pass Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act
Wine Institute, Wine America and other members of the Craft Beverage Coalition are asking members of Congress to quickly pass the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA) (H.R. 1175/S. 362) in the next appropriate legislative package. The CBMTRA would provide critical federal excise tax relief to craft producers. The coalition has a call to action webpage with a customizable email that you can send to lawmakers (through Sept. 30).
Government Relations Report
As California experiences tragic and historic wildfires in 2020, everyone agrees that we need to do more to fund fire protection in California. Yet, politics continues to block those efforts.   
AB 1659 (Bloom, Levine, Dodd, et al.) proposed to fund fire protection efforts through a volumetric charge on customers of privately-owned utilities like PG&E. That effort ultimately failed. Consequently, rural counties rebooted on the fly in the last two days of the legislative session and proposed an amendment to AB 1873 (budget committee) to provide nearly $500 million in funding for fire protection as an urgent matter. 
While all bills must be in print in final form for three days before the California Legislature can vote on a bill, that rule can be waived upon receipt of such a request from the governor for emergencies, such as the wildfires California is experiencing. All indications were that the Senate leadership and Gov. Newsom wanted this funding to advance. Nonetheless, this last-ditch effort was blocked by others for political reasons unrelated to the fires. 
This is an unfortunate example of the chaos in the last few days of the 2019-20 legislative session.

For this Los Angeles Assembly district, this race is shaping up to be a rematch of the 2018 election, in which Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon defeated fellow Democrat Maria Estrada 54 percent to 47 percent (roughly 7,700 votes). Estrada aligns with Bernie Sanders and speaks out against the “special interest” and paints Rendon as a “corporate Democrat.”   
Estrada has most recently attacked Rendon for denying a fellow assemblymember the option of voting by proxy. In August, in the last days of the 2019-20 legislative session, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) requested permission to vote by proxy, as she is a mom with a newborn child. Speaker Rendon denied her request because he believed she was not in a “higher risk” group for COVID-19.   
Wicks then drove to Sacramento, with her 1-month-old daughter in the car seat, to cast her last-hour vote on pending legislation. Rendon later apologized for his denial, but he has continued to be the subject of critical newspaper editorials and much scorn in social media. 
While Rendon would prefer to focus on other Assembly races to help grow his caucus, many are advising him to focus on his own reelection and consider the advice of former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, who once said, “All politics is local.” 

-Michael Miiller / / (916) 204-0485
Act Now! Census Deadline is Sept. 30
Californians have until Sept. 30 to complete the 2020 census. The nine easy questions should take only 10 minutes. As of Sept. 10, only 67.9 percent of Californians have self-responded. If you have not responded, you can complete the questionnaire online, by phone or by mail.

About the census: The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population be conducted every 10 years. Census data helps determine the number of seats each state holds in Congress and how billions of dollars in funding are distributed to states and local communities every year for services and infrastructure, including healthcare, jobs, schools, roads and bridges. 
Trump, Biden Outline Ag Priorities in AFBF Q&A
The American Farm Bureau Federation has asked every presidential candidate over the past 40 years to share their policies on key issues that could impact farmers and ranchers over the next four years. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden answered questions for 12 issues: food system resiliency, farm policy programs, international trade, tax policy, energy, regulatory reform, Endangered Species Act, clean water, biotechnology, rural life/health, ag labor, and sustainability and climate change.

USDA-ERS Stats for CA: Grapes No. 3 in Cash Receipts in 2019
USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) on Sept. 2 updated farm data (all states) that includes top five commodities in cash receipts, number of farms, acres of farmland, production expenses and more. ERS has interactive charts and maps for each state (move cursor to California and click). Users can also see where California ranks compared with other states with these stats. In California, grapes were ranked No. 3 ($5.41 billion) in cash receipts, behind almonds and dairy products (milk). For production expenses in 2019, hired labor was No. 1, contract labor was No. 4 and pesticides were No. 5.
Five New Grape Varieties Approved for Designating American Wine
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has administratively approved the use of five new grape variety names: camminare noir, paseante noir, errante noir, ambulo blanc and caminante blanc. Wine bottlers can use these names, as well as other names granted administrative approval, to label American wines pending TTB’s next rulemaking.

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Resources and Articles

California’s color-coded tier system: View map and counties – As of Sept. 10, two counties are in yellow (minimal), nine in orange (moderate), 14 in red (substantial) and 33 in purple (widespread).    

California Department of Public Health: COVID-19 statistics and resources (updated daily)

Grape growers expect less demand, lower prices at harvest and hope Congress will make winegrapes eligible for future pandemic relief programs. John Aguirre quoted.
Good Fruit Grower, Sept. 9

UCCE, Sept. 8

Six ag businesses were among those cited following July inspections.
Press release, Sept. 4

Kings County: Winegrapes Increase in Value
The value of winegrapes was $16,965,000 in 2019, up from $16,212,000 in 2018. Production in 2019 was 3,671 harvested acres, 63,068 tons and $269 per ton. Production in 2018 was 3,674 harvested acres, 55,330 tons and $293 per ton.

San Diego County: Winegrapes Up Nearly $1M in Value
Winegrapes increased to $5,580,300 in 2019 from $4,591,032 in 2018. Production in 2019 was 1,511 harvested acres, 3,596 tons and $1,552 per ton. Production in 2018 was 1,642 acres, 3,284 tons and $1,398 per ton.

Stanislaus County: Total Value, Harvested Acres Down
The total value of winegrapes was $40.7 million in 2019, down from $46.7 million in 2018. Red varieties: 5,651 harvested acres (5,890 in 2018), 52,700 tons (60,300 in 2018), $27.4 million value ($29.8 million in 2018). White varieties: 3,575 harvested acres (3,765 in 2018), 31,900 tons (37,300 in 2018) and $13.3 million value ($16.9 million in 2018).

Film on SJV Rivers, Water Supplies Released by Modesto Irrigation District
“Until the Last Drop,” an 83-minute documentary released by Modesto Irrigation District and Final Cut Media, “explores the past, present and uncertain future of San Joaquin Valley rivers and water supplies.” According to a press release, the documentary includes interviews with more than two dozen scientists, elected leaders, appointed officials, water managers, conservationists and farmers. The filmmakers explored the controversy over how much water should remain in the rivers for environmental uses and how much should be shared with the farmers who need it for crops and the 2.6 million people who drink it. The website also includes a get involved/take action section.

Vineyards & Wine

September issue

CAWG President John Aguirre and members quoted.
Ag Alert, Sept. 9

Wine Enthusiast, Sept. 8


Press release, Sept. 8

CalChamber, Sept. 4