WineAmerica Legislative Update

By Jennifer Montgomery

As we await the next step in the saga of the “CARE” Act, drama is not lacking on Capitol Hill as Congress and the Administration wrangle and argue over major money issues. President introduced his 2011 budget and as expected, the budget proposes some significant cuts which the Republicans feel do not go far enough. The House began debating the Continuing Resolution (CR) this week as well. The CR would provide money to operate federal agencies and programs through September. In its current proposed form it cuts 60 billion dollars from current spending levels. If it does not pass both the House and Senate, the possibility of a government shutdown becomes very real. It will be a very protracted CR debate in the House because approximately 600 amendments have been filed by members. We are still sorting out what the CR and Presidential budget cuts would mean to the programs that are important to our industry.

Going back to the “CARE” Act, WineAmerica, along with other groups that have been working together to oppose the bill, sent a letter to the Hill urging Members of Congress to refrain from co-sponsoring the bill when it resurfaces. We still have no solid intelligence that indicates when or in which chamber the bill will be re-introduced, but we know it will be resurrected and we are keeping a close watch on the Hill so that when it does show up we’ll be out in front of it.

One issue that is very important to the industry, but is still a little further down the road is the 2012 Farm Bill. But that being said, WineAmerica, as part of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, has already begun educating the new members of Congress about the Farm Bill programs that we care about, meeting with USDA, as well as talking with other specialty crop groups about strategies for preserving these programs and their funding in what will be an incredibility tight Agriculture budget.