Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance Urges Action on 2012 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

Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance Urges Action on 2012 Farm Bill 
WASHINGTON, D.C – Both the Senate and the House Agriculture Committees have made a strong effort to advance their respective versions of the 2012 Farm Bill.  Based on the current information regarding the House moving forward this week with a one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill along with disaster assistance, the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance has released the following statement:

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance strongly supports congressional efforts to reauthorize the Farm Bill this year.  Both the House and Senate have made significant progress in this endeavor by making critical enhancements and reforms to key programs important to specialty crop producers in this country. We urge Congress to continue moving forward with a legislative process that best achieves those objectives this year.
We are concerned that a one-year extension falls short of that goal and hinders access to key programs for our producers directly related to research, value-added producer grants, and important programs that enhance domestic production. An extension of the current law would be a missed opportunity to enact federal agriculture policy that increases access for specialty crops and fosters competition for our industry both domestically and globally.

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 www.strongeragriculture.org. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

House Agriculture Committee Passes Its Version of the Farm Bill

Last night (early this morning) the House Agriculture Committee passed its version of  the Farm Bill (HR 6083) by a bi-partisan vote of 35 Y – 11 N. The 11 Republican and Democrat committee members voting against the bill were: GOP Reps. Bob Goodlatte (VA), Marlin Stutzman (IN), Bob Gibbs (OH) and Tim Huelskamp (KS.); and Democratic Reps. Joe Baca (CA.), David Scott (GA.), Chellie Pingree (ME), Joe Courtney (CT), Marcia Fudge (OH), Terri Sewell (AL) and Jim McGovern (MA). The two primary motivating factors for the NO votes were budgetary objections and the $16.5 billion dollar cut to the SNAP program, formerly known as food stamps.

This $957 billion bill maintains critical funding levels for our industry priorities including the Specialty Crop Block Grants, Specialty Crop Research Initiative, National Clean Plant Network, the Market Access Program (MAP), and Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG). While a victory for Chairman Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Peterson (D-MN), Chairman Lucas will now have to push House Republican leadership to schedule a floor vote with only 13 legislative days left before August recess. If the legislation passes on a floor vote, House and Senate conferees will then be named to work on a compromise between the two versions of the bill.

For more information contact WineAmerica's Director of Government Affairs Jennifer Montgomery at jmontgomery@wineamerica.org

WineAmerica Opposes Proposed Amendment to the Zoning Ordinance Affecting Farm Wineries in Fauquier County, Virginia

The following letter was sent to the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors on Thursday, July 12, 2012

WineAmerica, the National Association of American Wineries, on behalf of our member wineries in Virginia and across the nation, echo the concerns of the Fauquier Wine Council, the Virginia Wineries Association, and the Virginia Wine Council in opposing the proposed amendment to the Fauquier County zoning ordinance affecting local farm wineries.

WineAmerica is comprised of approximately 800 winery members in nearly every state. Through our state association partnerships, we represent the vast majority of the nearly 8,000 American wineries at the state, federal, and international levels. The mission of WineAmerica is to encourage sound public policy that will allow for the growth of the American wine industry, and to provide wineries market opportunities both domestically and abroad.

Over the past three decades, wineries have played an extraordinary role in the preservation of agricultural land and the development of local economies throughout Virginia and across the U.S. Much of this benefit accrues to localities like Fauquier County in the form of agritourism and related business growth. Consumers who visit wineries are likely to visit nearby restaurants, inns and other tourist destinations.

This success has been the conscious result of local and state policies that promote sustainable winery development. To advance their essential agricultural character, wineries in Virginia and across the U.S., commonly employ a wide array of marketing tools, including operation of tasting rooms, wine festivals, winery dinners, and winery concerts. Successful localities narrowly tailor their zoning laws to reflect the broadly positive cultural benefits of winery activities and events. As the Oregon Supreme Court has noted, reasonable local land use restrictions “reinforce the profitability of [winery] operations and the likelihood that agricultural use of the land will continue.”

Virginia Code Annotated § 15.2-2288.3(A) codifies these principles by recognizing “the agricultural nature of” local winery “activities and events.” Virginia law prohibits local regulation of such “activities and events” that “are usual and customary for farm wineries throughout the Commonwealth…unless there is a substantial impact on the health, safety, or welfare of the public.” (emphasis added).

Fauquier County is plainly prohibited from regulating with the kind of overbroad and unreasonably proscriptive regulation proposed in the zoning ordinance amendment. See id. Nevertheless, Fauquier is not the first locality to deal with winery activity and event regulation. We urge you to consider the narrowly tailored strategies already employed by countless jurisdictions throughout the U.S. that allow wineries the space to productively operate while protecting local health, safety, and welfare. The Board of Supervisors should not risk implementing bad policy that would seriously harm the many leading Virginia wineries that call Fauquier home.

Thoughtful regulation can reinforce the success of winery operations. We urge you to support the continued dynamic development of your local businesses, and to reject the proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance affecting farm wineries.

Monday, July 9, 2012

New Label Revisions Allowed

Add, delete or change awards and medals

Read more at: http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?section=news&content=102556&htitle=Wine%20Label%20Approvals%20Streamlined
Copyright © Wines & Vines
Add, delete or change awards and medals

Read more at: http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?section=news&content=102556&htitle=Wine%20Label%20Approvals%20Streamlined
Copyright © Wines & Vines
As part of their continual effort to streamline the label approval process, the TTB has released a new Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) Form that allows several new revision to existing wine labels without requiring a resubmittal.  The new revisions are as follows:
  1. Add, delete or change awards and medals.
  2. Reposition any label information, including, text, illustrations and graphics.
  3. Minor editorial corrections that do not change the meaning of the label.
  4. Add,delete or change trademark or copyright symbols, kosher symbols, company logos and/or social media icons.
  5. Add, delete or change a vintage date.
  6. Add, delete or change stated bottling date, production date (day, month and/or year) or freshness information including bottling, production or expiration dates or codes. 
  7. Add, delete or change holiday and/or seasonally themed graphics, artwork and or salutations.    
If you have any questions regarding these changes, or any other other COLA related questions please contact Michael Kaiser at mkaiser@wineamerica.org.