Unity, Cooperation & Efficiency
Formed in 1978, to represent the national winegrape growing industry, the Winegrape Growers of America (WGA) connects the power of unity, cooperation and efficiency.
WGA serves as the national lobbying arm of the domestic winegrape industry. We provide a forum for communication and exchange of information among member states. Our unified voice for winegrape growers focuses on important policy issues such as research, environmental concerns, wine taxes, international trade and government regulation. Since 1978, officers have come from states including New York, Texas, California, Ohio, Virginia and Washington.
WGA provides winegrape growers a voice regarding important policy issues.
Below is a summary of the current issues within the wine industry that are a priority for both WGA and WineAmerica.
A full report is available here.
Issue: Federal alcohol excise taxes (FET) have remained the same for many years. FET reform is needed to better meet the needs of the rapidly growing American wine industry by fostering a stimulative business climate.
Recommendation: Support the Craft Beverage Reform and Tax Modernization Act as part of tax reform proposal.
Issue: Wineries use music (live or otherwise) as a marketing tool to attract consumers, which is a key aspect of agri-tourism and essential to many winery business models. Performing Rights Organizations (PRO’s) have created an environment that is not conducive to wineries. Greater transparency and reform are needed.
Recommendation: Make the music licensing system more transparent and more business friendly to wineries.
Issue: The Trump Administration has initiated the process of renegotiating NAFTA. Both Canada and Mexico are major markets for American wine and need to remain open. Additionally, now that that the United States has pulled out of the TPP, Asian markets remain a challenge.
Recommendation: Work with the Administration to maintain North American markets while taking this opportunity to address certain Canadian protectionist policies. The American wine industry opposes any border adjustment tax, and supports free and fair trade worldwide.
Issue: America’s wine industry needs affordable and reliable agricultural labor to achieve the quality expectations of winemakers and consumers. Many vineyards and wineries depend on the availability of foreign migrant workers, but the current visa program for agricultural workers does not adequately respond to the labor supply shortage.
Recommendation: Address the need for comprehensive immigration reform. An effective guest worker program is essential.
TTB and USDA
Issue: The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), and USDA research and export promotion programs are essential to the American wine industry. Adequate funding is required to ensure effectiveness of programs.
Recommendation: Ensure the TTB and USDA research and export promotion programs are properly funded through Appropriations as proposed cuts would be drastically adverse to the American wine industry.
Issue: Grape research comes through a number of channels but approximately one-third, or $400 million, of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) annual budget goes towards the agency’s crop protection and crop production programs.
Recommendation: The 2018 Farm Bill should fully fund ARS at its current levels in order to maintain consistency in grape research.
Pest and Disease Control
Issue: Grapevines are susceptible to various invasive pests and diseases such as Pierce’s Disease, the glassy winged sharpshooter, European grapevine moth and brown marmorated stink bug.
Recommendation: The U.S. grape and wine industry supports robust funding for programs within the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to detect and eradicate invasive plant pests and diseases.