California Wine Industry Seeks Disaster Assistance from Wildfires

California Wine Industry Seeks Disaster Assistance from Wildfires

Leaders of five California agricultural organizations have joined together to request Congress include the state’s winegrape growers in a disaster assistance bill.

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Congress is expected to soon take up a disaster assistance bill to help agricultural producers in the Southeast U.S. devasted by the 2018 hurricanes. Five grower groups – California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG), Lake County Winegrape Commission, Lake County Farm Bureau, Mendocino County Farm Bureau, and Mendocino Winegrowers Inc. – sent letters to U.S. representatives from Northern California and other members of the California congressional delegation asking for the inclusion of California winegrape growers in the disaster assistance package.

The groups’ request for federal assistance consists of the following elements:

  1. Extend the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP) to cover 2018 wildfire-related effects on California vineyards and winegrapes.
  2. Promote greater utilization of federal crop insurance among winegrape growers by establishing clear, effective standards around smoke exposure claims and fund an aggressive outreach and education program on the benefits of crop insurance coverage.
  3. Provide $5.25 million of new funding to support intensive research on smoke exposure and winegrapes that would help limit future damage.

“The intensity and frequency of wildfires has increased around the world and this devastating reality has been made abundantly clear in California,” said CAWG President John Aguirre. “The assistance sought by our organizations will help growers adversely affected by wildfires this year and in future years.”