Trump Budget Proposes Massive Cuts to Essential Wine Industry Programs

by Michael Kaiser, Vice President

5.25.17

This week the Trump Administration released their Fiscal Year 2018 Federal Budget Request. This document outlines the Administration’s budget priorities for the next fiscal year. The document is non-binding and is no more than a suggestion to Congress for spending priorities. Congress controls the spending power of the federal government and is under no obligation to match the proposals put forward in the budget request. The government is funded through September 30, 2017 by the spending bill  passed late last month. Congress will begin work on the FY 2018 Appropriations Bill this summer. The Administration’s Budget proposes massive cuts to some of our key priorities:

TTB: The FY 2018 Budget Request proposes a $7 million decrease in funding for TTB. The current funding level is $106 million. That includes the $5 million for COLA and formula approvals that we worked to secure at the end of 2015 and was maintained this year. The additional funding allowed TTB to get COLA turnaround times for wine down to five days, down from upward of a month just a few years ago. A cut of this size would put that in jeopardy and would impede wineries from getting their product to market.

Specialty Crop Block Grants and Value Added Producer Grants: The Trump Budget Proposal eliminates all funding for the Speciality Crop Block Grant and Value Added Producer Grant Programs. These two programs are authorized through the 2014 Farm Bill, but the Administration can recommend eliminating the funding for the programs. The current funding for the Speciality Crop Block Grant program is currently $68 million and the Value Added Producer Grant Program is currently $14 million. Many wineries, vineyards, trade associations and universities rely on these programs for essential marketing and research needs.

Market Access Program: The Market Access Program (MAP) assists U.S. specialty crop producers to create, expand, and maintain access to foreign markets. This successful public/private cooperation is an effective tool for increasing access to consumers around the world and generating job creating export income for rural communities.  The Trump Budget Proposal eliminates funding for the Market Access Program. The current funding level is $200 million. Wine producers from California, Washington, Oregon and New York have used the MAP program extensively to market their wines outside of the US. Completely cutting the program would be devastating to the marketing efforts of those states, with a ripple effect throughout the rest of the industry. If these larger producing states lose their export markets, the wines will need to be sold elsewhere, and the most likely market is back in the United States.

Next Steps: WineAmerica will be working with our allies in various coalitions to insure that Congress does not strip the funding for these important programs. We will be taking meetings with relevant Members of Congress. We will ask for your help too. When Congress begins the Fiscal Year 2018 Appropriations Process we will be asking you, our valued members, to reach out to your Congressional Delegations to tell them how important a fully funded TTB is and how essential these USDA programs are for the American wine industry.

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WineAmerica is the national voice the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 41 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations. As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) Receives Leadership Award from U.S. Wine Industry

Contact:  Michael Kaiser
Vice President
202-223-5172
mkaiser@wineamerica.org

May 1, 2017

Senator Ron Wyden (D) of Oregon was presented the 2017 Grape and Wine Public Policy Leadership Award by members of WineAmerica and Winegrape Growers of America last week in Washington DC during the jointly held National Policy Conference.

“Senator Wyden has been a true champion of Oregon wines for years,” said Janie Brooks Heuck, Secretary of the WineAmerica Board of Directors, who presented the award.  “As the owner of Brooks Wines in the Willamette Valley, I have benefited firsthand from his strong leadership, so it is a pleasure for me to help recognize him.”

Senator Wyden has been a tireless supporter of the American wine and grape industries over the years, working to modernize the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and most recently acting as the chief Senate sponsor of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. This initiative is the first comprehensive federal alcohol excise tax reform proposal that includes tax relief for wineries, breweries and distilleries.

Trent Preszler, PhD, WineAmerica Chair and CEO of Bedell Cellars in New York said, “There are wineries in all 50 States, and we need the type of broad-based leadership that Senator Wyden has provided to advance this all-American industry.  We are truly grateful for his support.”

“Senator Wyden defies the conventional view that Washington, DC is broken. He is an effective, results-oriented legislator who demonstrates a ready willingness to work on a bipartisan basis,” said John Aguirre, Executive Director of Winegrape Growers of America.

The Grape and Wine Public Policy Leadership Award will be awarded on an annual basis to legislators who have shown exemplary leadership on issues of importance to the American wine and grape industries.

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WineAmerica is the national association of American wineries based in Washington, DC.  Each year it convenes a public policy meeting that combines education and meetings with legislators on key issues.  The meeting is held in conjunction with Winegrape Growers of America, an organization of grower associations from around the country.

For more information, visit www.wineamerica.org

 

WineAmerica Spring Meeting Brings New Energy to Issues and Organization

Contact:  Michael Kaiser
Vice President
202-223-5172
mkaiser@wineamerica.org

5.1.2017

Washington, DC – WineAmerica, the national association of American wineries, held its annual National Wine and Grape Policy Conference this week in Washington, DC in conjunction with Winegrape Growers of America. The three-day conference attracted wine industry leaders from across the country to meet, learn about, and weigh in on the most pressing public policy issues affecting growers and wineries.

The new Administration and changed political climate in Washington provided the backdrop for the spring meeting, which included new energy relative to both the issues and the organization itself. Expert speakers described the evolving political climate as well as key issues affecting the American grape and wine industry. Among many specific topics covered were federal excise tax reform, music licensing guidelines, immigration policy, trade negotiations, the Farm Bill, and funding for research and export promotion.

“The American wine industry faces numerous challenges, and this annual conference is always a great way to fully understand them and educate legislators and the Administration about our concerns and priorities,” said Jim Trezise, President of WineAmerica. “Our organization also has new energy, people and projects that all point to a very promising future.”

The event began with the Wines of America Congressional reception, where members of Congress, their staff and selected guests sampled wines from 29 states.

The WineAmerica Board of Directors meeting was also held, where the Board committed to a robust and vibrant national membership campaign and appointed a new at-large member.

Kirk Wiles, the CEO and Founder of Paradise Springs Winery was appointed to the vacant at-large WineAmerica Board Seat. Paradise Springs Winery operates out of both Fairfax County, Virginia and Santa Barbara, California–the only winery in the United States that is truly bi-coastal. Wiles’ Virginia winery has the official distinction of being the closest vineyard to Washington, D.C., located about 23 miles from Capitol Hill. The farm Wiles inherited was originally part of a land grant from Lord Fairfax to his family in 1716. The vineyard’s log cabin, now used for wine tastings, was renovated by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1955.

“We are very excited to appoint Kirk Wiles to the WineAmerica Board”, said Trent Preszler, PhD, CEO of Bedell Cellars on Long Island and WineAmerica Board chair. “Kirk has proven himself to be a leader in the Virginia wine industry with his service on the Virginia Wine Board, and his bi-coastal brand will provide a unique perspective to the WineAmerica Board”

WineAmerica has also initiated two distinct projects intended to grow our footprint in Washington, DC and increase our membership nationwide. This spring WineAmerica initiated the first comprehensive economic impact study of the American wine industry in over ten years. WineAmerica has contracted John Dunham and Associates to conduct the study, which will examine the total economic impact of the American wine industry in the United States.

“We know that the American wine industry is a major economic engine, but until now we haven’t had the specific metrics to illustrate that with reliable numbers,” said WineAmerica President Jim Trezise. “The results of this study will strengthen our case to lawmakers that creating a favorable business climate through sound public policy will be a great investment for the country.”

The WineAmerica Board will also be working to increase our national winery membership. Janie Brooks Heuck, Managing Director of Brooks Winery in the Willamette Valley and the Chair of the WineAmerica Membership and Marketing Committee, will be spearheading the national membership drive over the course of the next six months.

“WineAmerica is the only national winery association representing the interests of all American wineries in Washington, D.C. The more members we have, the greater influence we have with our congressional leaders,” said WineAmerica Janie Brooks Heuck, “Moreover, membership in WineAmerica has brought direct return on investment to wineries by advocating for legislative and regulatory reforms as well as added value services. Current efforts related to federal excise tax reform and music licensing will only increase the fiscal and operational savings to our members.”

The next WineAmerica Board of Directors meeting will take place in Napa Valley, California on November 9-10, 2017. The Spring Meeting of 2018 will be held in conjunction with the USBevX conference and trade show in Washington, DC on February 21 and 22.

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WineAmerica is the national voice the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 41 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations. As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy.