The USDA's Agricultural Statistics Service Cancels Data Report for NY Grapes
March 25, 2021
The New York grape and wine industry has a problem: it can no longer rely on a regular report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) on statistical information about the changes in acreage and production for New York’s grape and wine industry. NASS discontinued its five-year detailed “Vineyard and Orchard Acreage Survey” in 2011 and stopped collecting annual grape production statistics for the state in 2018.
Since the last acreage survey in 2011, the number of wineries licensed in New York has increased from 285 to 471, and two new AVAs were established, one for the Champlain Valley and a second for the Upper Hudson Valley. In the March 2021 issue of Appellation Cornell, Dr. Tim Martinson, senior extension associate at Cornell AgriTech, and Sam Filler, executive director of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation (NYWGF), summarized the impact of the lack of statistical data in one sentence: “Accurate and unbiased estimates of varietal composition and production are needed to document and plan for the industry’s future and support marketing efforts for NY grapes and wine.”
Filler wrote in the March 24 issue of the NYWGF’s weekly newsletter, “The growth and changes in New York’s grape industry require current data to facilitate business decisions, research priorities, marketing messaging, and for tracking economic impact. The vineyard survey is a valuable source of data for the private sector to help make commercial decisions. A winery or juice processor could use vineyard data to help identify suitable sites for its processing plants. Farm machinery and input suppliers could use the data to assess the potential demand for their products. And a company planning to establish a business in a particular location could use vineyard data to assess the viability of particular grape varietals.”
He continued, “More importantly, in order to remain competitive with other US grape growing regions, there needs to be a regular update of the New York vineyard survey.”
The example of several other wine regions inspired the NYWGF, led by Filler, to develop a solution to the basic problem of lack of important statistical data on a regular basis. Grape growers in California have compiled the “California Crush Report” since 1976; the Virginia Vineyard Association has produced an annual commercial grape report since 2004; and the Oregon Wine Board has prepared an annual “Crush Report” since 2005.
The NYWGF has now made available a short survey for all grape growers in New York state. The intent is to “capture a broad stroke snapshot of vineyard acreage and to document the extent that growers are using sustainable viticulture practices.”
Anyone who is growing grapes in New York is encouraged to go to www.newyorkwines.org/grower-survey. It will take only a few minutes to fill out, as the survey asks only ten questions: six on basic information about the grower and the vineyard location, and four on data about acreage, grape varieties, sustainability and use of the VineBalance workbook.