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Government Shutdown May Delay California Crush Report

by Kerana Todorov
January 10, 2019

A wine industry group on Wednesday cautioned the release of the annual California grape crush report set for early February may be delayed because of the partial federal government shutdown. The preliminary report was scheduled to be released on. Feb. 8.

The reason? The National Agricultural Statistics Service, a division of the US Department of Agriculture, which compiles the data for the report, is closed during the shutdown which started nearly three weeks ago. The NASS employees who produce the report for the California Department of Agriculture are on unpaid furlough.

The California Association of Winegrape Growers on Wednesday issued the statement regarding the potential delay in the release of the crush report as budget negotiations remain stalled in Washington D.C. President Trump wants $5.7 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border included in the budget, a proposal congressional Democrats have rejected.

Bill Berryhill, a Ceres-area grower and chairman of the CAWG Board of directors, urged government leaders to solve the impasse. The crush report, funded by the industry, provides “essential financial information to California winegrape growers,” Berryhill said in a written statement. “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.”

“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.

Wineries’ deadline to submit grape purchase data from the 2018 harvest to the National Agricultural Statistics Service is Thursday – Jan. 10, according to the CAWG statement.

Ciatti partner Glenn Proctor, who has worked in the wine industry since the mid 1980s, cannot recall a time when the release of the preliminary was postponed. “Hopefully, it’s just a minor delay,” he said, referring to the potential postponement.

The final grape crush report is scheduled to be published March 8.

On Tuesday, CAWG was one of the sponsors of a seminar on wine grape crop insurance near Upper Lake in Lake County. Two speakers from USDA could not attend the meeting because of the shutdown.

CAWG president John Aguirre, a former congressional staff member and lobbyist, addressed the situation in Washington DC. “Today it is on a high boil in Washington DC with a budget impasse,” Aguirre said.

The shutdown primarily affects eight federal departments: Homeland Security, the US Department of Justice, USDA, US Treasury, US Department of State and the US Department of Interior, Aguirre said. “So you’re talking about the IRS, National Parks, the National Weather Service, things that really matter to people and that affect our lives.”

USDA agencies affected include Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Agricultural Research Service, Farm Service Agency and Foreign Agricultural Service, and Risk Management Agency, according to CAWG.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, a division of US Treasury, is also closed.

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