Policy Perspectives

Farm Bill Blues

Congress has returned to Washington after its latest recess, and is scheduled to be there for the next three months or so. But that doesn’t necessarily mean many important things will get done.

The Farm Bill is a sad example. In theory, it’s passed every five years, and includes some vital provisions and funding for programs that benefit the grape and wine industry. Research funding, value-added grants, disaster relief, and agricultural export promotion through the Market Access Program (MAP) are among the key areas affecting our future. And for now they’re stuck.

A new Farm Bill was supposed to be enacted long ago, but is still not in sight due to legislative gridlock that has become the new normal. Fortunately, the kick-the-can-down-the-road funding extensions keep the programs alive while the legislators bicker.

A month from now, WineAmerica will be holding our annual Washington “fly-in” spring policy conference, where our members will visit their Senators and Representatives, emphasizing the importance of the Farm Bill to all of us.

2023 was the least productive legislative year in decades, but 2024 may well surpass that dubious record.

Pacific Rim Wine Competition

If you don’t enter, you can’t win!

That’s my simple reminder to wineries about a key way to promote their wines: through top wine competitions like the upcoming Pacific Rim on May 1 and 2 (with entries due by April 24 and wine shipped by May 26—so hurry!). Many states, regions, varietals, and wineries will never get the attention of major wine magazines, so medals and scores from these events are a vital tool.

The wines are tasted blind by panels of experts—wine educators, sommeliers, wine makers, restaurateurs, wine retailers, consumers—who appreciate wine from different perspectives. Having judged at Pac Rim for decades, I can attest to its professionalism and fairness, and the openness to a wide variety of wine types and styles.

Give it a try by entering here.

Wine competitions can be great marketing tools for wineries which enter, and great ways for me to track the industry’s quality revolution.