Shutdown could delay key California wine grape harvest report, trade group warns
A trade group for California’s wine industry Thursday raised alarm over the federal government shutdown, saying a key harvest report for contracts in the multibillion industry is in jeopardy if it continues.
The California Grape Crush Report, which the industry pays for, "provides essential financial information" to California growers, according to Bill Berryhill, a Central Valley farmer and chairman of the California Association of Winegrape Growers’ board of directors.
“Lengthy delays in publishing the report threaten to complicate contract negotiations, interfere with lending activity and make it difficult for growers to budget for the year ahead,” he said in the release.
Jan. 10 is the deadline for California’s estimated 6,000 wine grape growers to submit grape purchase data from the 2018 harvest to the Pacific Region office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
That agency normally produces a “crush report,” or tally of the harvest, that are released preliminarily in early February and in a final report in March. Those figures factor into prices paid for grapes in future purchase contracts.
“Currently, NASS staff responsible for producing the report are on unpaid furlough until funding is restored. A continuation of the shutdown makes timely publication of the Crush Report highly uncertain,” the trade organization stated.
Other agencies key to the wine industry but currently affected by the shutdown include Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Agricultural Research Service, Farm Service Agency, Foreign Agricultural Service, Risk Management Agency, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“We need our elected leaders in Washington, D.C. to quickly resolve this budget impasse and get programs like the Crush Report back up and running,” Berryhill said in the statement.
The wine industry in California includes 608,000 acres of vineyards in 49 of 58 counties, employs 325,000, generates $57.6 billion in annual economic activity, pays $7.6 billion in taxes annually, pays $17.2 billion in wages annually and attracts more than 23 million tourists to wineries annually, according to the trade group.
Another group, San Francisco-based Wine Institute, issued questions and answers for its members about the regularly impact of the shutdown. The San Francisco-based organization said it represents 1,000 wineries in the state as well as affiliated businesses.
Key agencies wine-related businesses work with that are affected by the shutdown include the Alcohol & Tobacco & Trade Bureau, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Agricultural Research Service, Farm Service Agency, Foreign Agricultural Service, Risk Management Agency, National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, according to the institute.
The TTB website is operating but isn't being updated, so paperwork such as certificates of label approval or exemption (commonly referred to as COLAs) can be submitted but will “not be updated or approved until the shutdown ends,” the group said. The agency has no one on hand either to assist growers, it stated, but required reports will still need to be filed either electronically or by mail.