Policy Perspectives with Jim Trezise

Welcome Back, Congress!

We’re now officially into a new Congressional year, and with a new balance of power. The Senate returned to Washington to be sworn in on January 3, then immediately recessed until next Monday the 23rd. The House actually spent two weeks in DC, mostly consumed with electing a Speaker (Kevin McCarthy, R-CA), before leaving a week ago and returning next Monday as well. The entire Congress will finally be in DC!

One of the first orders of business is selecting chairs and members of committees, which account for most of the work and decisions. Fortunately, WineAmerica has good relationships on both sides of the aisle in both chambers, and especially the Senate. In addition to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), key committee chairs include Patty Murray (WA–Appropriations), Debbie Stabenow (MI–Agriculture) and Ron Wyden (OR–Finance)–all from major wine states.

On the House side, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) is a key figure as co-chair of the Congressional Wine Caucus with Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), and as a majority member on the agricultural appropriations committee. Chairs of the key committees, all Republicans given their new majority, include Reps. Glenn Thompson (PA–Agriculture), Kay Granger (TX–Appropriations), and Jason Smith (MO–Ways and Means).

There are robust wine industries in all these states, and WineAmerica has good connections with these influential legislators.

Money Talks

WineAmerica’s 2022 National Economic Impact Study of the Wine Industry is a gold mine when it comes to advocating for public policy to protect and enhance the business climate for our industry–which is what we do!

For one thing, it showed that the wine industry’s total impact grew 25% above 2017, meaning our industry not only survived but actually thrived despite Covid—from $220 billion to $276 billion last year. Within that total, the key measures—jobs, wages, tourism, total output—all rose robustly as well. And the more we grow, the more we will contribute to the economy in the future—a clear incentive for legislators to work with us.

The study also details the wine industry’s impact in various states. Referring back to our various Senate and House leaders and committee chairs, let’s take a look at total Impact (in billions) and resulting rank among the 50 states::

California:           $88.1                              #1

Texas:                  20.3                               #2

New York:            14.9                               #4

Washington:          9.5                               #5

Oregon:                7.2                                #7

Pennsylvania:       7.1                                #9

Michigan:              6.3                                #11

Missouri                4.2                                #16

In short, the legislators who lead both chambers, and chair the key committees, have large wine industries to protect. That’s not a bad thing.

Thanks to John Dunham & Associates for two great studies (2017 and 2022).