DC in 23

by Jim Trezise, President

This week I visited DC for the first time since last September when we unveiled our National Economic Impact Study of the Wine Industry in Congress. The balance of power has shifted: Democrats still occupy the White House, and control the Senate (barely), while the Republicans control the House (barely), so it will be interesting to see what happens (and doesn’t) over the next two years of divided government. Fortunately, WineAmerica has legislative support on both sides of the aisle, and wine industry issues normally draw strong bipartisan support, in part because of the Congressional Wine Caucus.

National Vineyard Survey: My main purpose in DC was to attend the annual Winter Conference of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), where Michael Kaiser and I promoted the desperate need for a national vineyard survey. Our 2017 and 2022 Economic Impact Studies showed a glaring lack of vineyard data, so WineAmerica is taking the lead in correcting that problem.

Thanks to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, language in the 2022 Omnibus Spending Bill encourages the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to undertake this project. Thanks to Dana Huber of Huber Orchards, Vineyards & Distillery in Indiana, we were connected with NASDA CEO Ted McKinney, who invited us to the conference. We were able to meet with NASS  and NASDA officials as well as top-level agricultural officials from key states to help move this project forward. The Omnibus bill also included an extra $20 million for NASS, which is about 2% of the federal excise taxes paid by wineries in 2022 ($875 million) and less than 0.013% of the total federal taxes paid (business and consumption) of $15.5 billion. Hopefully, some of that new money will be used for a robust, comprehensive vineyard survey.