Current Issues & Policies

At any moment there are dozens of bills in state and federal legislatures that could affect your winery. While they vary in region and in scope, many fall under specific policy categories.

Read our policy positions and learn more about the major federal issues facing the American wine industry. These positions outline the history behind the issues, the significance of the possible changes and the stance WineAmerica has taken on the subject.

To provide you with context, there are separate documents on WineAmerica’s Government Affairs Process, Government Affairs Achievements, and 2022 Legislative Agenda, followed by detail on the major issues.

WineAmerica is the only national association of American wineries, with more than 400 winery members from over 40 states in addition to over 40 statewide and regional winery trade associations which represent the vast majority of American wine production. Our mission is to encourage the growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy.

Michael Kaiser, Vice President of Government Affairs

Tara Good, Vice President of Development

Jim Trezise, President

Vineyardists grow grapes. Vintners make wine. WineAmerica produces policy.

Public policy is WineAmerica’s “product.” Everything we do is aimed at improving the business climate for American wineries, just as growers seek to produce the best grapes and winemakers the finest wines. As in those cases, government affairs involves a process that is complex, dynamic and essential to understand in order to achieve success. 

Policy Development: WineAmerica develops its legislative agenda and policy positions through staff working with a Government Affairs Committee consisting of board member wineries and some non-board member wineries from around the country. The focus is on prioritizing issues based on their impact on the American wine industry nationwide. 

Policy Execution: Michael Kaiser leads the government affairs efforts, with support as needed from Tara Good and Jim Trezise. Public policy advocacy requires intense communication with many different constituencies—WineAmerica members and leadership, beverage alcohol coalition partners, Administration officials, Capitol Hill staff, and others. The legislative process is very dynamic, with frequent changes in situations, so regular and reliable communication is vital. WineAmerica staff and Government Affairs Committee members hold weekly updates on conference calls, with a longer monthly call involving additional committee members, and to provide more details. 

Grassroots Support: WineAmerica has a unique asset: the State and Regional Associations Advisory Council (SRAAC) comprising over 40 state and regional winery trade associations from around the country. When the time comes to generate constituent support for legislation, WineAmerica asks its SRAAC members to contact their Senators and Representatives. Winery members are also directly asked to contact their legislators at critical times.

Beverage Alcohol Coalition: WineAmerica works closely with the Wine Institute (a California association with national reach) and several trade associations representing the beer, cider, mead, and spirits sectors. This coalition was crucial in securing passage of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA), which lowered excise taxes on all alcohol beverages. This group also organized several “Day of Action” virtual lobbying initiatives which in one day resulted in over 13,000 businesses making 37,000 contacts via text, email or phone. In addition to WineAmerica and the Wine Institute, beverage alcohol coalition partners include the American Cider Association, American Craft Spirits Association, American Mead Makers Association, Beer Institute, Brewers Association and the Distilled Spirits Council. WineAmerica is also a member of different coalitions revolving around agricultural policy, music licensing, tariffs and trade, and other issue areas. Coalitions are vital in advancing legislation.

Key Policy Connections

WineAmerica’s national scope and broad-based leadership provides key connections with Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle. A few examples just from our Board of Directors:

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY)—Scott Osborn, Fox Run Vineyards, NY WineAmerica  Treasurer

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR)—Janie Brooks Heuck, Brooks Wine,  OR, WineAmerica Chair

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)—Marty Clubb, L’Ecole No. 41, Walla Walla, WineAmerica Assistant Treasurer

Senator Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)—Maria Chantal-Dalese, Chateau Chantal, MI

Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA), Chair, Congressional Wine Caucus—Debra Dommen, Treasury Wine Estates, CA, WineAmerica Vice Chair

Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Co-chair, Congressional Wine Caucus—Ryan Pennington, Chateau Ste. Michelle, WA

WineAmerica also has an unparalleled grassroots network with our State and Regional Association Advisory Council. The  40+ state and regional winery trade associations allow us to have personal connections in the majority of Senate and House offices.

 

Major Money Saving Measures: Here is a small sampling of some key measures which WineAmerica has achieved:

  • Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (2017), reducing federal excise taxes for wineries of all sizes
  • Repeal of Bond Requirements for small producers
  • Repeal of the annual Special Occupational Tax ($500-$1000 per year) which was created to pay for the Civil War 
  • Creation of the Small Producer Tax Credit (1991) which protected small wineries from an excise tax increase from 17 cents to $1.07 per gallon by offering a 90 cent per gallon credit

WineAmerica’s advocacy over the years has saved American wineries millions of dollars. For example, since 1991 the Small Producer Tax Credit has saved small wineries 90 cents per gallon, with another 10 cents now added under the 2017 Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA), bringing the total to $1.00 per gallon in savings since small wineries are now paying only 7 cents instead of $1.07. 

The crowning achievement of WineAmerica’s recent government affairs work was the permanence of the CBMTRA. First enacted at the end of 2017 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, reduced excise tax rates went into effect on January 1, 2018 but were scheduled to expire on December 31, 2019. A one-year extension made December 31, 2020 the new deadline while WineAmerica worked with beverage coalition partners to have permanence of the CBMTRA included in the year-end Covid relief bill.

The tax benefits are particularly large for wines between 14% and 16% alcohol by volume, as for tax purposes they are now considered table wines. In addition, the tax credits may also be applied to sparkling wines. Add to those annual savings the ones from the repeal of bond requirements and repeal of the Special Occupational Tax, and the result is that a 10,000-gallon winery is now saving $11,000 each year.

Savor the Savings: By contrast, the annual WineAmerica dues for wineries producing 10,000 or fewer gallons is only $500—or 1/22nd of the annual combined savings. This modest investment lets WineAmerica staff keep working for you.

2022 is a Congressional election year, which means every House seat is up for reelection, as well as 34 Senate seats. The Democrats hold a thin 222-212 majority in the House. In the Senate, their majority is even thinner. There is a 50/50 tie between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Harris as the tie-breaking vote. If there is one thing we have learned in 2021, Congressional gridlock is here to stay, and in many ways it is worse than it has ever been. 

In most Congressional election years, usually the only legislation passed and signed into law involves the annual appropriations bills, as well as items like defense authorization bills. There are hardly ever any “big ticket” pieces of legislation passed. However, next year will feature the ramp-up for the 2023 Farm Bill, in which WineAmerica will take an active role. There is also the possibility of smaller items like USPS shipping to be folded into a larger bill.

All eyes will be on the November elections, as the Republicans could retake the majority in the House and/or Senate, giving us divided government and the chance for even more gridlock.

Issue Summary

In 2022, WineAmerica will be tracking the following issues, which are each described in detail below.

USPS Shipping Bill: Would allow the Postal Service to ship wine, offering a new alternative to FedEx and UPS and opening new markets not served by them

Federal Cannabis Legalization: Would legalize medical and recreational use of cannabis on a national level, with widespread implications for the wine industry.

Agriculture Labor Initiatives: Would streamline and simplify the procedures and requirements related to securing documented workers much needed by the wine industry

TTB/Regulatory Issues: Would continue to increase communication and ensure compliance

Music Licensing: Would require greater transparency, fairness, and professionalism from Performance Rights Organizations

The Issue: Currently 47 states allow some form of direct-to-consumer (DTC) wine shipment through common carriers. In each case, the wine producer is required to have the proper permitting in each state, and is required to pay sales tax on DTC orders. The United States Postal Service (USPS) has been prohibited by federal law from shipping beverage alcohol through the mail, and legislation has been introduced to correct that.

Wine Industry Impact: This bill could bring substantial benefits to American wineries by providing more competition among shipping companies and expanding the geographical areas where wine could be shipped.

WineAmerica Position: WineAmerica has tacitly supported the USPS Shipping Equity Act when it has been introduced in previous Congresses. The bill has never had a real chance of passage, but that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. The increased demand for direct-to-consumer wine shipments and the need for postal reform have increased the chances for passage. WineAmerica supports the current version of the USPS Shipping Equity Act and will advocate for its passage.

Background: The 21st Amendment established that each state, plus the federal government, is responsible for the regulation of alcohol. Additionally, there are safeguards producers must take to insure that the individual receiving the shipment is 21 or older. The state level regulation of direct-to-consumer alcohol shipments has proven to be very effective. There have been virtually no cases of alcohol being shipped to a minor, and the safeguards in place to prevent it have been shown to work. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased demand for direct-to-consumer wine shipping. This demand, paired with the USPS’s current financial crisis, has led to a renewed desire to allow USPS to direct ship alcohol. It is estimated that opening beverage alcohol shipping to the USPS could unlock up to $180 million in revenue. This is by no means a fix to the USPS’s economic problems, but an untapped revenue stream. 

The direct-to-consumer wine shipping market has increased exponentially over the last ten years, and especially in the last year due to Covid. The alcohol industry collectively contributes over $20 billion in annual tax revenue to state and local governments via sales and excise taxes on beverage alcohol, with a major portion of that through taxes collected via direct-to-consumer shipping. In 2020 wineries shipped 8.39 million cases of wine to consumers, a 27% percent increase over 2019. The value of these shipments was $3.7 billion. 

Congress has introduced bills to allow the USPS to legally ship alcohol for many years now. The perennial bill is the United States Postal Service Equity Act, which has been introduced by Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), who sits on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which has jurisdiction over the USPS. The bill never previously had much traction in the House, but the need for postal reform has created some momentum on the issue.

The USPS Shipping Equity Act would allow USPS to ship alcoholic beverages directly from licensed producers and retailers to consumers over the age of 21, in accordance with state and local shipping regulations. This bill will also expand access to consumers for direct-to-consumer shipments. While USPS ships to every household in the nation, private carriers do not, especially in many rural areas. Right now, there are Americans who do not have access to direct-to-consumer alcohol shipments, though they may be legal under their state’s law, because only the Postal Service delivers packages to their door.

USPS Shipping Equity Act does not change:

State and local federal excise tax collection and regulation of beverage alcohol. Beverage alcohol producers contribute over $20 billion in annual tax revenue to state and local governments through sales and excise taxes. This legislation does not make any changes to federal excise tax collection, nor does it inhibit state and local authority in regulating beverage alcohol.

Federal excise tax collection and regulation of beverage alcohol. At the federal level, beverage alcohol remains a highly regulated and highly taxed industry with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) serving as the industry’s lead regulator.

Strong safeguards to prevent underage consumption of alcohol by minors. Safeguards like identification checks are critical to preventing minors from purchasing or obtaining beverage alcohol – no matter how it is purchased.

The USPS Shipping Equity Act was introduced in May 2021 as H.R 3287, with Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) as the lead sponsors. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Senate companion, S, 1663.

The Issue: The United States has needed comprehensive immigration and agricultural labor reform for many years. The last major piece of immigration reform legislation was passed during the 1980s when Ronald Reagan was president. There have been false starts on this issue during the Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump Administrations. The new Biden Administration and the Democratically controlled Congress offer the best chance of reform for the first time in nearly ten years.

Wine Industry Impact: The American wine industry has long used a largely immigrant labor force to pick its grapes and maintain vineyards and other winery operations. Wineries and vineyard operations have long used guest worker programs, such as the H2-A program, but the application process and residency requirements can be onerous and are just not practical for many small producers. In many cases vineyards will resort to hiring labor without validating their legal status. 

WineAmerica Position: WineAmerica has long supported the need for comprehensive immigration reform. We have been long time members of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and the Agriculture Coalition of Labor Reform. While primarily a producer association, WineAmerica does represent a vast array of grape growing operations.

Background: There have been several stops and starts at the Congressional level to pass comprehensive immigration reform. In 2021 we thought we saw the best chance for comprehensive reform was last year before the Midterm elections this year. It remains to be seen if a bill will pass and be signed into law. 

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) jointly introduced the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. The bill is the first major piece of immigration reform legislation that has been introduced in quite some time.  Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Judy Chu (D-CA), Yvette Clark (D-NY), Karen Bass (D-CA), and Raul Ruiz (D-CA) joined as chief cosponsor

This new immigration reform bill faces an uphill climb towards passage, especially given the lack of any Republican support. It is expected that a more targeted, stand-alone bill will be introduced focusing specifically on agriculture labor and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). 

The following is a summary of the provisions of the bill:

  • Creates a “roadmap” to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants, providing  DACA, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and some farmworkers with an expedited three-year path to citizenship, and giving all other undocumented immigrants who pass background checks and pay taxes with an eight-year path to citizenship.
  • Reforms family-based immigration system to keep families together by recapturing visas from previous years to clear backlogs, including spouses and children of green card holders as immediate family members, and increasing per-country caps for family-based immigration. It also allows immigrants with approved family-sponsorship petitions to join family in the U.S. on a temporary basis while they wait for green cards to become available.
  • Changes the employment-based immigration system, eliminating per-country caps, making it easier for STEM advanced degree holders from U.S. universities to stay, improving access to green cards for workers in lower-wage industries, and giving dependents of H-1B holders work authorization, and preventing children of H-1B holders from aging out of the system. The bill also creates a pilot program to stimulate regional economic development and incentivizes higher wages for non-immigrant, high-skilled visas to prevent unfair competition with American workers. 
  • Increases funding for immigrant integration initiatives and supports state and local governments, NGOs, and other community organizations that conduct inclusion programs, provide English language assistance, and make available naturalization resources to immigrant communities.
  • Protects workers from exploitation and improves the employment verification process by requiring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor to establish a commission involving labor, employer, and civil rights organizations to help improve the employment verification process.
  • Supports asylum seekers and other vulnerable populations by eliminating the one-year deadline for filing asylum claims.

The Issue: The wine industry and the larger beverage alcohol industry is one of the most regulated industries in the United States. The 21st Amendment to the Constitution implemented the current regulatory system that includes different laws and regulations for each state, as well as federal regulation of the industry. There are also different rules for each commodity.

Wine Industry Impact: Many wineries are small, family run and owned businesses. They have to navigate through local, state and federal regulations and rules. It can be quite cumbersome and confusing.

WineAmerica Position: WineAmerica works to create a more “user friendly” regulatory environment for the American wine industry. We interface with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) on a regular basis. We also work on our members’ behalf with the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other federal agencies. WineAmerica submits comments regularly to federal agencies on behalf of our winery members and the wine industry as a whole.

Background: Last July President Biden issued an Executive Order intent on promoting competition in the American economy. The order establishes a White House Competition Council to oversee the administrative implementation of the policies established by this executive order. According to the executive order, “The Council shall coordinate, promote, and advance Federal Government efforts to address overconcentration, monopolization, and unfair competition in or directly affecting the American economy.”

The White House Competition Council is led by the Director of the National Economic Council and  also consists of a combination of Cabinet secretaries and heads of various independent federal agencies. Each agency will work to develop its own plan of action to address the concerns of this executive order. The Secretary of the Treasury is tasked with this for the Treasury Department, including regulation of beverage alcohol and the TTB.

The following text explicitly outlines the scope of this executive order in relation to the beverage alcohol industry. 

To protect the vibrancy of the American markets for beer, wine, and spirits, and to improve market access for smaller, independent, and new operations, the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Chair of the FTC, not later than 120 days after the date of this order, shall submit a report to the Chair of the White House Competition Council, assessing the current market structure and conditions of competition, including an assessment of any threats to competition and barriers to new entrants, including:

(i) any unlawful trade practices in the beer, wine, and spirits markets, such as certain exclusionary, discriminatory, or anticompetitive distribution practices, that hinder smaller and independent businesses or new entrants from distributing their products;

 (ii)   patterns of consolidation in production, distribution, or retail beer, wine, and spirits markets; and

(iii)  any unnecessary trade practice regulations of matters such as bottle sizes, permitting, or labeling that may unnecessarily inhibit competition by increasing costs without serving any public health, informational, or tax purpose.

(k)  To follow up on the foregoing assessment, the Secretary of the Treasury, through the Administrator of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, shall, not later than 240 days after the date of this order, consider:

(i) initiating a rulemaking to update the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s trade practice regulations;  

 (ii)   rescinding or revising any regulations of the beer, wine, and spirits industries that may unnecessarily inhibit competition; and

(iii)  reducing any barriers that impede market access for smaller and independent brewers, winemakers, and distilleries.

What does this mean for wine? It could mean quite a lot. The first two clauses deal with the distribution of alcohol by the wholesale tier. There has been a lot of consolidation in the wholesale tier and that has led to increased difficulty for smaller or newer producers to enter the wholesale and retail market. The regulation of those markets has largely been left to the states and this could lead to increased federal oversight. The third clause is something the TTB has already been examining internally. In the last few years we have seen the labeling and permit systems streamlined, and the TTB has opened up the standards of fill for wine and spirits, and plans to allow for more in the near future. 

The last three clauses direct the TTB to fully examine all of their regulations regarding the distribution of alcohol. The last clause in particular stands out as it could allow the federal government to look into state- level barriers to market, which. This could include impediments to direct shipping. Regardless, this executive order could have wide-ranging impacts on the way alcohol is sold here in the United States.

The Issue: Many states have either decriminalized the use of cannabis, or allow for medical or recreational consumption, with currently 37 states that allow for medicinal use, with an additional 17 states that allow for recreational use. While there is not yet formal legislation, there is significant support to legalize and decriminalize cannabis on a federal level.

Wine Industry Impact: The potential decriminalization and legalization of recreational cannabis use has a wide range of impacts on the American wine industry affecting the areas of agriculture, production, tourism and taxes.

WineAmerica Position: WineAmerica has not taken a formal position on the decriminalization and legalization of cannabis. We continually monitor the Congressional efforts on the issue and discuss its status and implications with relevant stakeholders.

Background: The use and possession of cannabis is illegal under federal law for any purpose, by way of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA). Under the CSA, cannabis is classified as a Schedule I substance, determined to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use–thereby prohibiting even medical use of the drug.

The discrepancy between state and federal laws has led to a considerable amount of confusion about the legality of cannabis. From banking to distribution and taxation, the federal government has not taken a formal role in the enforcement and regulation of cannabis possession and consumption. That looks to possibly change with the current Congress.

Many of the regions where cannabis is grown overlap with where a large portion of wine grapes are grown. The marijuana plant requires different care than a grapevine, including the use of certain pesticides and herbicides that could potentially damage wine grapes if they were to become exposed. Additionally, there is a significant lack of regulation (particularly at the federal level) for cannabis growth. 

From a marketing standpoint, the cannabis industry has looked to the example of the wine industry. They would like to develop appellations of origin and agritourism marketing programs in the same vein as the wine industry. The increased use of recreational cannabis could also encroach on the consumer market share wine enjoys. 

The regulation of cannabis at the federal level will also directly impact the regulation of wine and other beverage alcohol products as the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is the likely agency to tax and regulate the industry.

There have been many false starts to federal decriminalization and legalization of cannabis. With the Democratic controlled House and Senate and a Democrat in the White House, there is a realization that it could happen in 2021, yet there remain several roadblocks. The House has passed a few pieces of legislation over the years, such as the Safe Banking Act that would legitimize the banking industry for cannabis, as well as more comprehensive bills. Currently in the Senate the push for legalization is being driven by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism Chair Cory Booker (D-NJ). 

Current Politics: While the political winds seem to be blowing in the direction of legalization, the leaders of this effort face an uphill battle in the Senate. The House does seem poised to pass legislation that will federally legalize cannabis. The Senate will prove more of a challenge for passage with the 50/50 split. Not all Democrats support legalization, and it would prove a challenge to get enough Republicans to support the bill to get to the 60 vote threshold needed for passage. Additionally, President Biden has gone on record as not being supportive of federal legalization. There is always the possibility that cannabis legalization is folded into a larger piece of legislation.

Policy Proposals: The main Senate sponsors plan to release what is known as a discussion draft on legalization in the coming weeks. The draft proposal will be sent to various stakeholders for comment. That will include the beverage alcohol industry. The lead sponsors of the bill want to achieve as much consensus as possible before formally introducing the bill. 

The Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) have released a document outlining what they feel is the best way forward from a regulatory standpoint on possible federal legalization of cannabis. The framework they propose very much follows the federal regulatory process for beverage alcohol, with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau as the primary regulator, which would include collection of federal excise taxes as well as advertising and labeling approval. The framework suggests a form of the three tier system of producer, retailer and wholesaler for the distribution of cannabis for personal consumption. The TTB labeling would prohibit any health claims on packaging and would include warning labels, much like tobacco and alcohol products. 

Due to the complicated nature of the product, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Agriculture, will have some form of jurisdiction over the legal cannabis regulation, but the primary regulator of the product will more than likely be TTB.  Additionally, there are no federal standards for cannabis impairment.

In July 2021 Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the long-awaited Senate framework for cannabis decriminalization and federal legalization. The proposed legislation is in draft form and has not been formally introduced as legislation. WineAmerica will be reviewing the proposal and submitting comments and suggestions. The proposal would have some tangential impacts on the beverage alcohol industry. The main tenets of the proposal are:

  • To remove cannabis from the list of controlled substances and would reclassify cannabis under the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act. 
  • To decriminalize cannabis at the federal level, but would leave it up to individual states to legalize for recreational use.  It would NOT mandate states to legalize, but individuals would no longer be subject to federal prosecution. However, a state may not prohibit interstate commerce of cannabis into a state where it is legal.
  • To transfer federal agency jurisdiction of cannabis from the DEA to the FDA, HHS, TTB and ATF. The minimum age for legal purchase will be 21. 
  • To direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to research the societal impact of cannabis legalization. Additionally, it directs HHS and the Department of Transportation to collect data on cannabis impaired driving and establish a federal impairment standard.
  • To suggest an excise tax system based on the current system for alcohol and tobacco. The taxes will be collected by TTB. The excise tax will start at 10% and gradually increase. A small producer credit will be enacted. Any cannabis producer will be required to apply for a permit with the TTB for tax purposes, and register with the FDA. The FDA will regulate the production and marketing of cannabis. The TTB will only handle tax collection and trade practice enforcement.

Conclusion: While WineAmerica does not have a formal position on cannabis legalization at the federal level, it is essential that we are involved in the process. If the TTB does become the primary regulator of the industry we will need to work to maintain their ability to effectively regulate the alcohol industry. It is unclear what federal excise tax rates will be for the industry. There is a major challenge in the transition of an illicit industry to a legitimate industry, and the federal excise tax rates will need to reflect that. There is also the myriad of state and local level challenges that this process will face going forward. WineAmerica will continue to monitor this issue as it progresses in 2022 and beyond.

The next five-year Farm Bill is slated to be passed in 2023, but work has already begun in shaping it. The Farm Bill is the largest and most important agricultural legislation, and for the winegrowing industry it includes substantial funding for research, export promotion, value added grants, and other initiatives. WineAmerica is actively monitoring and working on development of the next Farm Bill.

WineAmerica continues to advocate on behalf of small businesses on the issues of music licensing on Capitol Hill. Last year, we saw a win when the Department of Justice completed a multi-year review of the ASCAP and BMI Consent Decrees, ruling that no changes were to be made. This preserved a business right to a “blanket license” upon request; the “similarly situated” clause, stipulating that similarly situated businesses would be charged the same; and a business’s right to contract directly with a singer/songwriter.

Accelerating the Growth of Rural Innovation and Tourism Opportunities to Uphold Rural Industries and Sustainable Marketplaces (AGRITOURISM) Act: This bill would create an Office of Agritourism at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to serve as a dedicated voice for agritourism businesses in the federal government and to consolidate information on federal resources available to agritourism business owners.