Thursday, June 28, 2012

WineAmerica Sponsors a Taste of Michigan

This past Tuesday WineAmerica co-sponsored the third annual "Taste of Michigan" reception.  The reception, hosted by the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, is an annual showcase for Michigan wine, beer, spirits and food.  The reception was attended by Members of Congress, Congressional staff and various industry representatives. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Senate Supports Specialty Crops With Passage of Farm Bill

The following is a press release from the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, of which WineAmerica is a member.


Ray Gilmer, United Fresh Produce Assoc. 202-303-3425
Lisa Lochridge, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Assoc. 321-214-5206                                                                                                      

Senate Supports Specialty Crops With Passage of Farm Bill

Bill Preserves Funding for Critical Specialty Crop Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C – The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA) applauded the passage of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 in the Senate today. The 64-35 vote comes after a two-day consideration of more than 70 amendments, pared down from the nearly 300 that were submitted. The bill addresses many of the critical priorities outlined by the SCFBA and continues the support of specialty crops that was established in the 2008 Farm Bill.

“We appreciate the hard work of Majority Leader Reid, Republican Leader McConnell, Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, and Ranking Member Roberts for getting this challenging but vital farm bill over the Senate finish line,” said John Keeling, National Potato Council executive vice president and CEO and co-chair of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance. “The policies of the Farm Bill passed by the Senate will help protect the tens of thousands of jobs associated with the specialty crop industry and will help create more. And it further strengthens the access of all Americans to the specialty crops that enhance their daily lives.  We look forward to ensuring that the voices of employers, workers and families dependent on a strong specialty crop industry are heard as the House makes progress on its Farm Bill.”

"At a time when it's critically important for Americans to be eating more fruits and vegetables, Senate passage of this bill is great news for consumers," said Mike Stuart, president of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association and co-chair of the Alliance. "Besides preserving jobs, it helps to ensure access to a plentiful supply of healthful specialty crops. What's more, this bill addresses some of the continual significant challenges specialty crop growers face in the production and marketing of their crops in an increasingly global marketplace. We look forward to working with the House as it takes up its version of the bill."

“For specialty crop producers across the country the Farm Bill represents an opportunity to create a healthier life for Americans across the country,” said Tom Nassif, president and CEO, Western Growers and co-chair of the Alliance. “Farm Bill funding helps fuel innovations in farming that will help our producers grow and harvest an abundant supply of specialty crops utilizing fewer natural resources. This is an opportunity to help our industry in the short and long-term as well as help secure the jobs of millions of American workers who support agriculture and reduce the federal deficit. Now that the Senate has completed its work, we look forward to seeing Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson move the farm bill through the House Agriculture Committee.”

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance is grateful to the Senate Agriculture Committee for bringing a comprehensive bill to the floor and to the key policymakers who worked with the Alliance to secure support for several programs of particular importance to the fresh fruit and vegetable industry. The 1,000-plus page bill includes key specialty crop industry priorities such as research, pest and disease mitigation, trade, nutrition, and other programs help producers to be competitive and meet the needs of American consumers. Highlights of the bill include:

       Specialty Crop Block Grants funded at $70 million per year
       Specialty Crop Research Initiative funded at $25 million in FY13; $30 million in FY14-15; $65 million in FY16; $50 million in FY17
       Plant Pest and Disease Program funded at $60 million in FY13-16 and $65 million in FY17
       Market Access Program and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops fully funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
       Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program fully funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
       Hunger-Free Communities Grant Program for fruit and vegetable SNAP incentives
       Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program
       Section 32 specialty crop purchases funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
       DoD Fresh program fully funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels

The House Agriculture Committee is expected to release its version of the bill in July.


The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance is a national coalition of more than 120 organizations representing growers of fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, nursery plants and other products. The alliance was established to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop agriculture and improve the health of Americans by broadening the scope of U.S. agricultural public policy. For more information, visit


With a vote of 64 Y – 35 N, the US Senate today passed its version of the 2012 Farm Bill (S. 3240). Included in this bill are important programs and funding for specialty crops, such as Specialty Crop Block Grants, National Clean Plant Network, Specialty Crop Research Initiative, Value Added Producer Grants and Market Access Program (MAP). WineAmerica applauds the Senate for accomplishing the daunting task of putting together a national Farm Bill in a bi-partisan manner; one that recognizes the important role specialty crops play in the US agricultural community. We also recognize the outstanding work of  Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-KS) whose outstanding leadership during this grueling process ensured success.  

We now turn our attention to the House where the House Agriculture Committee plans to begin markup on its Farm Bill on July 11. WineAmerica will continue to work, as part of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, to protect our critical programs and funding as the process continues. 

For questions about the 2012 Farm Bill or any other legislative issue, please contact WineAmerica's Director of Grassroots and Political Affairs Jennifer Montgomery at

WineAmerica Opposes the National Institute of Health's Proposal to Eliminate the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

WineAmerica and other industry partners sent the following letter to Capitol Hill opposing the National Institute of Health's proposal to eliminate the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.  The letter was signed by WineAmerica, The Wine Institute, The Beer Institute, The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, The National Beer Wholesalers Association, The National Association of Beverage Importers and Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America.

The Honorable Joe Pitts
Energy and Commerce Committee
Subcommittee on Health
United States House of Representatives
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

We are writing about the hearing you have scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2012 regarding the National Institutes of Health: A Review of its Reforms, Priorities and Progress.  We understand that Dr. Francis Collins, NIH Director, will testify on behalf of NIH.

The hearing is timely, because we just learned that NIH has decided to by-pass your Subcommittee in connection with NIH’s plan to abolish the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in order to create a new addiction-focused Institute. Instead of putting the proposed merger through the statutory process detailed in the NIH Reauthorization Act of 2006, which would involve your Subcommittee’s input, NIH plans to avoid substantive review of this merger by simply including the changes in its FY14 budget.

The NIH has failed to undertake the legally required assessment of administrative, logistical and financial costs associated with the merger and has also not presented any details regarding the mission of the new addiction-focused Institute. An informal cost analysis done by Dr. Bankole Johnson, of The University of Virginia estimates merger costs approaching $1 billion. Institute collaboration, which is already underway, is more effective and cost efficient. A structural merger would result in significant funding cuts for research. Additionally, it now appears unlikely that nicotine would move to the new addiction Institute. An important consideration in the proceedings of the Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) meeting, which seemed to sway the vote for the structural merger, was the promise that the new proposed institute would
address nicotine, a serious addiction issue.

We are strongly opposed to NIH’s plan. Both NIAAA and NIDA work to understand the science behind addiction and abuse, and while increased collaboration may be appropriate, a structural merger of these two agencies is ill advised, because it will lead to a research environment in which legal alcohol and illegal drugs are deemed the same when, in fact, they are very different. This, in turn, would have unwarranted policy implications. Alcohol is a legal product, and the overwhelming majority of adults who choose to drink beverage alcohol, do so responsibly. Alcohol also has documented health benefits when consumed in moderation. Linking alcohol use with illicit drug use ignores these and many other facts. Linking alcohol use
with illicit drug use also turns back the clock on advances NIAAA has worked diligently to achieve in de-stigmatizing alcoholism to increase the likelihood that individuals will seek treatment.

In addition to its work on alcohol abuse and alcoholism, NIAAA supports research on the health effects of moderate drinking as well as metabolism of alcohol, organ pathology related to alcohol consumption, drunk driving, college binge drinking, and fetal alcohol syndrome. There is a substantial risk that these important areas of research will be lost if there is only a single institute devoted exclusively to addiction research. NIAAA also addresses a wide variety of policy issues including the effectiveness of measures to prevent illegal alcohol sales to underage or intoxicated persons. These important issues are unlikely to get the attention they need if NIH implements the structural merger.

We urge you to question Dr. Collins on this ill-advised structural merger for an addiction focused Institute as well as NIH’s apparent unwillingness to follow the statutory process detailed in the NIH Reauthorization Act of 2006.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Agricultural Export Coalition Strongly Opposes Amendment to Cut Market Access Program Funding and Limit Activity

In a letter dated June 13, 2012, 80 members of the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports strongly opposed an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to S. 3240 (Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012) to reduce annual funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) by $40 million and prohibit the use of MAP funds for certain activities. 

“Reducing funding for MAP would seriously undermine U.S. agriculture’s ability to compete in this highly competitive international marketplace,” the organizations said in the letter to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Minority Member Pat Roberts (R-KS). “It is a very efficient, cost-effective program.”

The letter also noted that under MAP, participants must carefully evaluate and adjust all export market development activities every year. The participants submit plans to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), which reviews every promotional activity to determine their eligibility and ability to help increase demand for U.S. agricultural exports. This analysis, in conjunction with feedback from FAS overseas officers, determines whether activities merit funding.

MAP “has been tremendously successful and extremely cost-effective in helping maintain and expand U.S. agricultural exports, protect and create American jobs, strengthen farm income and help to offset the government-supported advantages afforded foreign competitors,” the organizations said. “We strongly urge that MAP continue to be funded in S. 3240 at no less than $200 million annually, which is the same level as in the current Farm Bill.”

The Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports is an ad hoc coalition of organizations representing farmers and ranchers, fishermen and forest product producers, cooperatives, small businesses, regional trade organizations, and the State Departments of Agriculture (see attached list). The Coalition believes the U.S. must continue to have in place policies and programs that help maintain the ability of American agriculture to compete effectively in a global marketplace still characterized by subsidized foreign competition. Since its formation in the late 1980s, the Coalition's goal has been to ensure that funding is maintained (and increased) for the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program administered by USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). 

WineAmerica is a member of the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports.

Monday, June 11, 2012

WineAmerica's Cary Greene to Speak at the Seventh Annual ShipComplaint Users Conference

WineAmerica's Cary Greene will be a featured speaker on two panels at the Seventh Annual ShipCompliant User's Conference.  The Conference, to be held June 14 at the Napa Valley Marriott, is the wine industry's premier direct sales conference.  For more information please visit the conference website at:

WineAmerica Opposes Missouri Bill Modifying the Definition of a Franchise: Bill Would Artificially Protect Wine Wholesalers

The following letter was sent to the Governor of Missouri on Friday, June 8, 2012.

Re: S. 837 – Modifying the definition of franchise under Missouri franchise law

Dear Governor Nixon:

WineAmerica, the National Association of American Wineries, on behalf of our
member wineries in Missouri and across the nation, encourage you to veto S. 837, a
bill that artificially protects wine wholesalers against competition at the expense of
Missouri’s 116 wineries.

As passed by the Missouri legislature, S. 837 would deny wineries an essential free
market right—to negotiate contracts affecting the sale of their products. Under this
draconian bill, Missouri wineries would be able to terminate their distributors under
only the narrowest of circumstances, with potentially crippling termination costs, and
under the threat of long, expensive litigation.

Over the five years between 2005 and 2010, the Missouri wine industry has doubled in
size, with an economic impact that has nearly tripled. See Stonebridge Research, The
Economic Impact of Wine and Grapes in Missouri 2010 (Oct. 2010). The unnecessary
and anticompetitive S. 837 would harm a shining example of dynamic, rural economic
development in Missouri, and the thousands of well-paying, rural jobs this rapidly
growing industry has created.

Missouri wines are a truly American gem. There’s nothing else in the world like them.
As local wineries continue to grow and flourish—improving their reputation
throughout the country and around the world—it is incumbent upon the Missouri
legislature to find ways to improve the state’s distribution laws. Tightening so-called
“franchise” protections would be a significant step backward, creating a barrier to
market entry for wineries with no commensurate benefit to the state.

Missouri is a leader of the Midwestern wine industry. Its distribution laws should
further encourage the development of local wineries and promote the interstate sale of
locally produced wine. The state should not impose new obstacles, such as those
proposed by S. 837, that would derail the efficient sale and distribution of wine.

We urge you to veto this harmful proposal.