September 12, 2019
Winegrape Growers Affected by Wildfires Can Apply for Assistance Through WHIP+
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue this week announced that growers who suffered crop losses due to natural disasters in 2018 or 2019 can apply for assistance through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) . Winegrape growers who suffered losses due to smoke exposure events in 2018 are eligible. USDA is now accepting claims for WHIP+ assistance.

CAWG and Cornerstone Government Affairs worked with members of the California congressional delegation to ensure winegrapes are covered by WHIP+. CAWG President John Aguirre commended the actions of key members of the California congressional delegation. “The efforts of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Reps. Mike Thompson and Jim Costa were critical in ensuring California’s winegrape growers affected by wildfires would qualify for assistance under WHIP+.”

EPA, Army Repeal 2015 WOTUS Rule, Ending Regulatory Overreach
The U.S. EPA and the Department of the Army today announced the final repeal of the 2015 rule defining the "waters of the U.S." (WOTUS) and the implementation of pre-2015 regulations. “Today’s step 1 action fulfills a key promise of President Trump and sets the stage for step 2 – a new WOTUS definition that will provide greater regulatory certainty for farmers, landowners, home builders and developers nationwide,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said. In a  statement , USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue called it “a major win for American agriculture.”

Government Relations Report
The definition of “employment”  was added to California law in 1953. Since then the California Legislature has relied on the courts, for the most part, to interpret the law as the courts have determined, on a case-by-case basis, whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. Court rulings, going back decades, have evolved to reflect changes in the workplace.
Last year, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of workers of Dynamex Operations West who believed they were employees. Dynamex had treated workers as employees, and then inappropriately reclassified them as independent contractors.  In the  Dynamex  case, the court created a very strict test of employment that applies to all industries. This ruling changed millions of independent contractors into employees.
The Legislature seized on the opportunity and chose to place  Dynamex  into the state's labor and unemployment insurance codes. This was accomplished this week as the Legislature approved  AB 5 (Gonzalez, D-San Diego).  The governor has indicated he will sign AB 5 into law.
This means that any future evolution in the definition of employment and determinations of whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor will be made primarily through legislation, not the courts. This is a historic shift whereby these changes will be made politically instead of judicially.
> WATCH VIDEO Sen. Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) is a farmer who spoke out against AB 5 on the Senate floor and made a compelling case for how this bill affects agriculture. Move time bar to 8:00:30 mark for his remarks.
AB 5 sets the standard for determining whether a worker is an employee (subject to wage and hour protections, employment taxes and workers compensation) or an independent contractor (subject to a form 1099 and paid pursuant to a contract).  

Under the new “ABC test" of AB 5, a worker is an employee unless ALL three of these tests are met:
  1. The worker is free from the control and direction of the company;
  2. The worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the company’s business; AND
  3. The worker has a separately established business.
The gig economy is the target of AB 5.  However, AB 5 applies to a broad universe of workers and industries and directly affects how growers contract for services. For example, this may include trucking and vineyard development contracts. It is important to note that AB 5 likely does not change contracts between growers and farm labor contractors.  
CAWG is putting together a fact sheet to help growers avoid the landmines of this new law. In general, growers are advised to use tight contracts for these services to protect against potential liability down the road. This may include a waiver of class action, mandatory arbitration, and making sure the worker is organized as an LLC or similar corporate entity.
AB 5 is very fuzzy in several places as  the Senate floor analysis of AB 5  refers to one such provision stating, “Fundamentally, it is unclear what that means.” 
This law will no doubt be amended for several years through new legislation as the Legislature grapples with how AB 5 works in the real world. 

Michael Miller quoted in both


Op-ed by the executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies.

-Michael Miiller / / 916-379-8995
Bipartisan Pro-USMCA Rally Held in D.C.
In an effort to urge the swift passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), ag leaders from across the country joined a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers in a rally today near the U.S. Capitol.  Farmers for Free Trade hosted the rally, where speakers discussed the benefits of the trade deal for agriculture.

CDFA Seeks Public Comments on Healthy Soils Program
CDFA has received $28 million from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund in 2019 to award grants as part of the Healthy Soils Program (HSP), which consists of the Incentives Program and Demonstration Projects. Growers, ag organizations and other stakeholders interested in providing input on the program can attend an  upcoming listening session in Orland, Fresno or Sacramento (or watch via webinar). You can also email comments to by 5 p.m. on Oct. 23.

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Reservoir and Drought Conditions in CA
>The latest  reservoir conditions map shows all major reservoirs above historical averages.

>The current  drought monitor map shows no drought conditions in nearly 100 percent of the state. 
Answers to Wine Questions Now Online
Answers to wine-related questions (see news item below) will be available online and intermittently on social media.

In case you missed this in last week’s CAWG eNews – from Dr. Anita Oberholster, UCCE/UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology: A wine chemistry Ph.D. student from the University of Missouri is launching a new project that allows anyone to anonymously submit a winemaking question via an  online Google form . Questions will be answered by various extension specialists or the Ph.D. student, depending on the question. The questions will be compiled bi-weekly during harvest. I am collaborating to answer any California-based questions where my input is needed.
DPR Licensing: Renew Now!
It’s time to renew for names/businesses starting with letters M-Z. Mail your application by Nov. 1 so that your license or certificate can be issued before it expires. Submitting your renewal to DPR  before October will ensure you have your license by early December and it allows you to register with the county prior to Jan. 1, 2020. More information is posted on DPR’s website.

Fresno County: Grapes Remain No. 2
The total value of agriculture produced in the county in 2018 was $7.89 billion, up 12.23 percent over the previous year value of $7.03 billion. The total gross value of all grapes remained in the number two spot (behind almonds) at $1.1 billion. For winegrapes (crushed), 2018 stats were 711,000 tons; $317 per ton; value of $225.4 million. In comparison, 2017 stats were 736,000 tons; $308 per ton; value of $226.7 million. 
Amador County: Winegrapes Dominate
Winegrapes continued as the top crop in Amador County last year, with a 7.86 percent increase over 2017. Statistics were 4,906 harvested acres; 18,201 tons; $1,362 per ton; value of $24.8 million. In 2017, the county had 4,572 acres with a total value of $23 million. 
Winegrape Harvest
Karissa Kruse quoted.
San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 12

Table, raisin grape yields expected to fall short of 2018 levels, but winegrape yields may exceed them.
Western Farm Press, Sept. 11

Canada’s clean-plant program is modeled on lessons learned from California.
Western Farm Press, Sept. 11

UCCE seeking growers statewide to help study the disease to find pockets of resistance.
Western Farm Press, Sept. 11

Press release, Sept. 11

PD/GWSS Board approves funds for research on promising treatment
Wine Business, Sept. 10

September issue

Research hints at why it’s more than a millennial movement.
North Bay Business Journal, Sept. 10

November 7
CAWG Board of Directors meeting, Modesto