September 24, 2020
Wine Industry Affected by Wildfires Seeks Extension of Disaster Payment Program
The following press release was issued by CAWG on Sept. 21:

With growers and winemakers facing unprecedented losses from the devastating West Coast wildfires, leaders of 10 wine industry groups are seeking help from Congress to obtain immediate disaster relief.
Specifically, they are requesting an extension of the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) to cover 2020 wildfire-related losses. Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, WHIP+ provides disaster payments to producers to offset losses from wildfires, hurricanes and other qualifying natural disasters. In 2019, California growers received WHIP+ payments for 2018 covered crop losses due to wildfires, as well as quality losses due to smoke exposure.
“Farmers are resilient and they accept the many risks inherent to agriculture, but 2020 has produced more challenges than any could have ever anticipated. It’s absolutely essential that Congress extends disaster assistance to California winegrape growers,” said CAWG President John Aguirre.
A jointly signed letter was sent to Congressional leaders on Sept. 18 by the 10 organizations.

Resources and Articles

CAWG President John Aguirre and UCD’s Dr. Anita Oberholster are quoted in the following Sept. 24 AP News stories:

Glenn Proctor of Ciatti Company (CAWG member) is quoted.
Reuters, Sept. 22

NRCS, Sept. 22

Weather West, Sept. 18

Dr. Anita Oberholster was interviewed for the story.
KCRA3, Sept. 17

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Winegrapes Now Eligible for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2
CAWG President John Aguirre issued a statement in response to USDA's Sept. 18 announcement:
“We are extremely pleased with the announcement by the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) that winegrape growers are eligible to apply for assistance through the expanded Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. CFAP 2 will provide growers with much-needed financial assistance to help them with the significant and continuing market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to an analysis by Jon Moramarco in June, California winegrape growers could suffer at least $437 million in lost sales from this year’s grape harvest due to COVID-19 related economic disruptions.
“CFAP assistance has been an important goal for CAWG for the past five months. Since May, CAWG and other agricultural organizations have urged USDA to include winegrapes on the list of specialty crops eligible for CFAP funding. In addition, Rep. Mike Thompson’s (D-Napa) leadership and the support of the California Congressional delegation proved invaluable to this effort. We are grateful for Rep. Thompson’s ongoing advocacy for the winegrape industry.” 

Workers' Compensation — COVID-19
More and more, the workers’ compensation system is being asked to shoulder some of the cost of COVID-19. This public policy in California was initially established in Executive Order N-62-20, which took effect in May. The order was then incorporated into SB 1159 (Hill, D-San Mateo) which was signed into law last week and took effect immediately. 

As a result of the increased numbers of claims, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California is proposing increased workers’ compensation rates on California’s ag industry. CAWG and other ag industry organizations are calling for the increased rates to be rejected.     

As SB 1159 goes beyond the executive order and may drive up workers' compensation rates even higher, employers are advised to carefully review the requirements in SB 1159 and how those requirements may apply to any particular workplace.

CAWG hosted a Sept. 23 webinar on how this new law affects winegrape growers.
>PDF of presentation / RECORDING of the webinar

Gov. Newsom and legislators believe that employees who test positive for COVID-19 need workers’ compensation coverage to reduce the financial need for them to return to work and potentially create an outbreak. While this is a concern shared by employees and employers alike, to ask the workers’ compensation system to serve as the backstop is to essentially place employers in the position of serving as the social safety net.   

Unfortunately, some policymakers don’t appreciate that when those jobs disappear, the social safety net they are intending to create disappears as well. Nonetheless, CAWG will continue to remind policymakers of this reality. 
Resources and Articles

California’s tier assignments: View map. As of Sept. 24, three counties are in yellow (minimal), 11 in orange (moderate), 19 in red (substantial) and 25 in purple (widespread).    

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

Housing for the Harvest: Program expands to Madera and Kern counties. Eight counties are now participating. Program website

Government Relations Report
Gov. Newsom on Sept. 23 announced he will prohibit the California sales of any vehicle that burns fossil fuels by 2035. In analyzing this development, we need only look back one week when President Trump visited fire-ravaged California. During that visit, Trump said, “It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch.” 
“I wish science agreed with you,” replied California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot. 
“Well, I don’t think science knows, actually,” Trump retorted. 
The problem with this dialogue is that a few days later there was Newsom's headline-grabbing announcement eliminating the internal combustion engine. Moving forward, we need to recognize that we all lose when the conversation around this issue is centered on denial of climate change vs. eliminate any use of fossil fuels.    
The governor’s authority on this is questionable, and CAWG will continue to weigh in and push for more realistic solutions. Absent an honest discussion of science and full exploration and development of viable options, this conversation ultimately feels a bit hyperbolic.  

In a state that is politically bright blue, races of great interest are those where two Democrats are on the ballot. This Silicon Valley Senate district sees Santa Clara Supervisor Dave Cortese and public interest attorney Ann Ravel – both Democrats – facing off. 
The Cortese name is widely known in Santa Clara County. Dave’s father is former Assemblymember Dominic Cortese, once recognized as “Legislator of the Year” by the California Chamber of Commerce. Dave’s grandparents were farmers. Conversely, Ravel is running for office for the first time and is a former elections watchdog under President Obama.   
One might instinctively see Cortese as moderate and Ravel as liberal. However, after scratching the surface, the opposite becomes clear. Cortese touts himself as a party-line Democrat who is endorsed by several environmental organizations and labor unions. Cortese said, “I'm especially honored that the United Farm Workers of America has chosen to give our campaign their sole endorsement.” 

Ravel is seen as more pragmatic and opposes Proposition 15 (split-roll) because of how it will increase costs for small businesses. In endorsing Ravel, the San Francisco Chronicle stated, “This is not a close call. Ravel is exactly the type of thoughtful, bold and truth-telling independent Democrat that District 15 deserves – and is solely lacking overall in Sacramento.” 
It is no surprise that business organizations are lining up behind Ann Ravel. 

-Michael Miiller / / (916) 204-0485
New PDCP Statewide Coordinator Named
Craig Hanes has been named the new statewide coordinator for the Pierce's Disease Control Program (PDCP). He previously served as the PDCP’s environmental program manager. “I have great confidence in Craig Hanes based on his vast experience at CDFA, his deep knowledge of this program and his dedication to its success,” said California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross.

A joint meeting of the PD/GWSS Advisory Board and PD Advisory Task Force is scheduled for Sept. 29 in Sacramento. The meeting is also available via Zoom.

CDFA Accepting Proposals for 2021 Specialty Crop Grants
Proposals for the 2021 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program are due by 5 p.m. on Oct. 23. Grant awards will range from $50,000 to $450,000 per project. Applicants can be nonprofit and for-profit organizations; local, state, federal and tribal government entities; and public or private colleges and universities. CDFA will conduct free webinars (highly recommended) to provide more guidance about the proposal process.

October is California Farmer and Farmworker Month
To pay tribute to the state’s agricultural community, CA GROWN has officially proclaimed the month of October to be California Farmer and Farmworker Month. CA GROWN is providing social media tool kits and other promotional items. To learn more, contact Connie Stukenberg at
CDFA Secretary Karen Ross wrote a blog post highlighting the proclamation and addressing the “daunting crises” that farmers have faced this year with the pandemic, market uncertainties, heat waves and wildfires.

SLO County
Winegrapes had an overall value of $254.3 million in 2019, down from $276 million in 2018. According to the crop report, the value of winegrapes fell by 8 percent with consistent bearing acreage. An oversupply of winegrapes contributed partially to the decline in value leaving some lesser quality fruit unharvested. The top three varieties by value were: cabernet sauvignon (19,551 harvested acres; 73,473 tons; $120.7 million total value), chardonnay (3,239 harvested acres; 13,108 tons; $18.9 million), and pinot noir (2,235 harvested acres; 6,148 tons; $17 million).

Kern County
Grapes (all) slipped from No. 1 to No. 2 in 2019 (below almonds), with a total value at $1.43 billion, down from $1.51 billion in 2018. Production statistics for winegrapes: 28,500 bearing acreage (29,200 in 2018); 241,000 tons (276,000 in 2018), $57.6 million total value ($82.5 million in 2018).

Tulare County
Grapes (all) moved down a spot to be the No. 3 ranked commodity in 2019 (below milk and oranges), with a total value of $802.6 million. Production statistics for winegrapes: 6,260 harvested acreage (8,410 in 2018); 117,000 tons (149,000 in 2018), $33.9 million total value ($46.8 million in 2018).

Vineyards & Wine
Once again, many growers are facing the dilemma of what to do with fruit that cannot be sold. This year, the coronavirus and wildfires contributed to complications. 
UCCE Sonoma County, September

Researchers say a new technique will improve genetic transfer rates across grapevine species from 2 percent to 92 percent.
Western Farm Press, Sept. 23

UC’s effort to bring data to the vineyard is aimed at improving crop health and yield.
Western Farm Press, Sept. 23

Interview (six-minute video) with CAWG board officer Jeff Bitter (Allied Grape Growers).
Sept. 18

Senate Ag Committee chair press release, Sept. 23

8 / CAWG PAC Virtual Town Hall Event with Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno)
16 / CAWG board of directors election ballots due

12 / CAWG board of directors meeting (virtual)