The Crush April2022 - 7

CAWG Delegation Travels to Nation's Capitol
Tom Slater, Clarksburg grower and CAWG's chairman of the board, led a delegation of growers and association
staff to Washington, DC, March 28 - 30, to advocate on behalf of California winegrape growers. The group met
with key members of the California congressional delegation and USDA senior staff to ask for increased research
funding to address wildfire smoke issues, improvements to the federal crop insurance program, and the launch
of a major initiative to advance mechanization and automation of vineyard tasks.
When wildfires swept through Northern California in 2018, CAWG was quick to seek research funding to help develop
tools to prevent the widespread economic losses that can result when winegrapes are damaged by wildfire smoke. Since
that time, CAWG and other wine industry organizations have successfully secured $10 million in congressional appropriations,
over a three-year period, to fund wildfire smoke research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural
Research Service. CAWG's lobbying delegation asked for $5 million annually in research funding to address wildfire
smoke issues.
In a meeting with California Senator Alex Padilla, the group asked for his support for
a major USDA research initiative to speed the commercialization of new technologies
and systems to mechanize and automate vineyard tasks. Tom Slater said to Senator
Padilla, " Growers are struggling to find workers, labor costs are rising, and as our
workerforce ages, productivity is declining. Even when we have workers, we can't
always get them into our vineyards because of COVID regulations, wildfire evacuation
orders or high heat events. " Slater continued, " Growers need a major increase in funding
for a USDA research initiative that will put new technologies and tools into vineyards to address these challenges. "
The group also met with and Representatives Mike Thompson (D-5th Dist.), Jim Costa (D-16th Dist.), Jimmy Panetta (D20th
Dist.), Doug LaMalfa (R-1st Dist.) and David Valadao (R-21st Dist.), and with senior congressional staff on the House
and Senate committees on agriculture and appropriations. In addition to requesting funding for research and improvements
to the crop insurance program, the CAWG group asked that pressure be put on USDA to release long awaited
disaster assistance to growers who suffered losses in 2020 due to wildfires. Last September, Congress provided USDA
$10 billion for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) to assist affected growers. USDA is expected
to announce this month the availability of WHIP+ assistance for growers' losses that occurred in 2020 and 2021.
Selma grower John Chandler and chairman of CAWG's Federal Issues Committee, said, " I think we made a
difference with this trip. We helped key California Members of Congress understand the challenges posed by
wildfire smoke and the need for more research and an improved crop insurance program. We also set the stage
for a major research initiative in the 2023 Farm Bill focused on mechanization and automation. "
CAWG Delegation Meetings
Senator Alex Padilla
Congressman Mike Thompson
Congressman Jimmy Panetta
Page 7 | April 2022

The Crush April2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Crush April2022

The Crush April2022 - 1
The Crush April2022 - 2
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