Policy Perspectives

Shutdown Averted (for now)

Once again at the last minute, Congress avoided a government shutdown, and we should now be safe until the end of September.

Last week’s second “minibus” appropriations measure totaling $1.2 trillion was very similar to what had been proposed and largely agreed to months ago, but delaying for no good reason has become an art form in DC. The next deadline isn’t until September 30, by which time Congress should theoretically pass appropriations for fiscal year 2025, but no one expects that to happen. So we’re likely to see this drill again, with another manufactured crisis leading up to the November elections.

A couple other questions are whether any work will get done on the Farm Bill, which is important to our industry and has been stalled during the chaos, though that looks unlikely at this time. In addition, there have been rumblings that House Speaker Mike Johnson may lose his job due to the recent bipartisan budget agreement, which would throw the House into total turmoil—once again.

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

Vital Associations

Cooperative Extension

This section normally describes national not-for-profit associations that are a key part of the grape and wine industry’s success. So is the Cooperative Educational System, though its legal stature and structure are different.

CES is a nationwide, non-formal educational system that supports farmers, ranchers, communities, youth, families, and more with practical information they can use to better their businesses or lives. It is administered by over 130 land grant universities in all of the 3,150 counties throughout our country.

Cooperative Extension employs a network of academically trained university faculty and staff who provide a broad array of staff training, curriculum, collaboration, education, resource development, and much more.

During my 32 years at the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, I witnessed Cornell Cooperative Extension’s vital role as a link between researchers who created knowledge and producers who needed it. Twilight meetings in vineyards, educational seminars, major conferences, and lots of communication ensured that New York’s grape growers and wine producers had the information they needed to blend quality, productivity, and social responsibility. Among the highlights were (and still are) the annual B.E.V. NY conference (standing for Business, Enology, Viticulture, in conjunction with NYWGF); and the weekly Veraison to Harvest e-newsletter providing timely, detailed information for growers and vintners to maximize each year’s bounty.

A major reason for the American wine industry’s growth and success in all 50 states is this group of dedicated people who spread knowledge and good will. Cheers!