Your source for CAWG and industry news
September 27 , 2018

November 7
CAWG PAC reception, Santa Maria

November 7-8
CAWG Board of Directors meeting, Santa Ynez

January 29-31
Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, Sacramento

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Governor Signs Wildfire Legislation - 29 Bills
Gov. Brown on Sept. 21 signed legislation to strengthen the state's ability to prevent and recover from catastrophic wildfires, including SB 901 (Dodd, D-Napa), which boosts the state's forest management activities, updates requirements for the maintenance and operation of utility infrastructure to reflect changing climate conditions, and protects ratepayers and utility workers.  Dodd called the new law "the most comprehensive wildfire prevention and safety package the state has passed in decades." SB 901 was one of 29 bills signed by the governor related to wildfires, forests, emergencies/disasters, forests and insurance.

Government Relations Report

The State Water Resources Control Board is arguably the most powerful agency in state government. That power may have been expanded even more last month, when using the "Public Trust Doctrine," the Third District Court of Appeal ruled that government agencies have a duty to regulate groundwater usage if there is reason to believe pumping groundwater drains adjacent waterways.
The case involves the Scott River in Siskiyou County, a tributary of the Klamath near the Oregon border. The potential ramifications of the ruling go far beyond Siskiyou.
Prior to this Third District Court of Appeal ruling, the Water Board's primary authority over groundwater was to step in if a local Groundwater Sustainability Agency fails to comply with its plan or doesn't put a viable plan together. Those plans are still in development and are not required in every groundwater basin. 
However, under the Scott River ruling, the Water Board could potentially assert authority over any well that it believes may impact a river or stream, even if the well is nowhere near the waterway, and without regard to the sustainability of that particular groundwater basin. 
Environmental groups may rely on this ruling to push the Water Board to develop regulations that provide restrictions on groundwater. This could potentially have long-term consequences for growers.
The 38th Assembly District (38th AD) includes the north Los Angeles County suburbs of Santa Clarita and Simi Valley. It is home to the Ronald Reagan Library (host of several GOP debates) and has been solidly Republican for decades.
However, the 38th AD overlaps a highly contentious congressional race which pits incumbent Steve Knight (R) against challenger Katie Hill (D). Party registration has changed in the last two years with registration now at 35 percent Democrat, 35 percent Republican, and 24 percent no party. Consequently, this is one of the most targeted congressional races in the country and both parties are investing substantial resources in this race. 
An innocent bystander in this is Assemblyman Dante Acosta (R-Santa Clarita). Acosta is a Gold Star father, very active in his community, well-respected for his pragmatic approach to public policy, and is one of only four Latino Republicans in the Assembly.  
His opponent is Christy Smith. She is a Newhall School Board member since 2009, a mom, and is also very active in the community. Smith and Hill are coordinating their campaigns, doing multiple events together including a joint event with Gavin Newsom.
This Assembly seat is very purple and could go either way in November and will be influenced greatly by what happens in the congressional race.  

-- Michael Miiller / / 916-379-8995 

US, Japan to Open Negotiations on Free Trade Agreement
This week the United States and Japan announced plans ( joint statement) to enter into negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said the trade agreement "is welcome news, since we know that export income is critical to the financial health of agriculture and is a key contributor to rural prosperity." In a  statement, Sen. Pat Roberts said, "In  2017, the U.S. exported nearly $12 billion in agricultural exports to Japan, placing it as our fourth largest destination. There is a great deal of potential to continue to grow that market." 

From a Wine Institute press release / March 2018: "U.S. wine importers in Japan hope the U.S. will establish a free trade agreement with Japan as soon as possible to abolish the heavy import duty disadvantage of U.S. wines, which will help the entire American wine category grow in Japan."  Bottled U.S. wine exports to Japan decreased 20 percent by volume in 2017, but value increased 12.1 percent.

CDFA Accepting Proposals for 2019 Specialty Crop Grants
Proposals for the 2019 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program are due Nov. 2. 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 and private colleges and universities. In October, CDFA will conduct four free workshops (in Merced, Sonoma, Los Angeles and Sacramento) and two free webinars to provide more guidance about the proposal process. 

CAWG member David Ogilvie of Wilson Vineyards is featured (read article or listen to four-minute story).
Capital Public Radio, Sept. 26
Added duties that took effect this week raise the total tariff rate for California wines to 79 percent.
Western Farm Press, Sept. 26
The pest is the most significant one for San Joaquin Valley table grapes.
Western Farm Press, Sept. 26
Winemaker harvested about eight tons of Flame Tokay grapes from two vineyards in Lodi.
Stockton Record, Sept. 25
Nine students were awarded scholarships this year, more than double awarded in 2017.
Sept. 24
Genetic modification of grapes could help wine growers deal with a range of challenges. A number of studies are underway.
Genetic Literacy Project, Sept. 21


Senate Ag Committee chair Pat Roberts conceded this week a farm bill by the Sept. 30 deadline is not likely.
AgNet West, Sept. 26

The board will hear from agricultural stakeholders, including California Farm Bureau Federation and Western Growers Association, on key issues related to farming and ranching.

Smoke Taint Information from Pan American
With a growing number of winegrape growers receiving a notice of rejection from a winery due to smoke taint, it is important to know there are key steps required when you have crop insurance. Missing one part of the process could result in the denial of your crop insurance claim. If you have a crop insurance policy and suspect you have smoke taint or you have received a letter of rejection from the winery, Pan American has provided some helpful information.

A USDA Risk Management Agency representative provided the following guidance to CAWG: 

Smoke Taint on Grapes: It is our understanding that lab tests are disclosing additional markers which are resulting in the rejection or devaluation of grapes. RMA has not (and will not) specify the markers that indicate smoke taint, and it is up to the AIPs to make a determination that smoke taint has affected the quality of the grapes based on the presence of the markers on a lab test. All other provisions regarding loss adjustment and claims still apply.

American Farm Bureau Asks Federal Court to Halt WOTUS Rule Nationwide
From AFBF:  The American Farm Bureau Federation and a broad coalition of business groups this week asked a federal district court in Georgia to expand its prior order delaying implementation of the flawed 2015 waters of the U.S. rule in 11 states. The coalition asked that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia extend its previous injunction to block the WOTUS rule in the remaining 22 states that are currently subject to the controversial rule.

Groundwater Program Launches Online Survey on Water Quality Concerns
The Department of Water Resources Sustainable Groundwater Management Program (SGMP) is conducting an  online survey on water quality concerns. The survey should take about 5-10 minutes.  The purpose of the survey is for the SGMP to obtain feedback from groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) and interested parties on the water quality components of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and groundwater sustainability plan regulations. The survey will be open through Oct. 10. 

CAWG PAC Reception ~ Nov. 7 ~ Join Us!
The flyer and registration form will be available next week.