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    February 2014                  Common Ground; Innovative Research                        NGWI.ORG

In This Issue
A Farm Bill at Last
NGWI Elects 2014 Officers and Members
NGWI Annual Meeting Presentations Available

Calendar of Events

Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association Annual Conference & Trade Show
Dallas, TX
February 13-15, 2014

Cold Climate Conference
St. Paul, MN
February 20-22, 2014

Oregon Wine Symposium
Portland, OR
February 20-26, 2014

Michigan Grape & Wine Conference
Acme, MI
February 26-28, 2014

Finger Lakes Grape Growers Conference & Trade Show
Waterloo, NY
February 27-March 1, 2014

Eastern Winery Exposition
Lancaster, PA
March 3-6, 2014

New Mexico Vine & Wine Conference
Albuquerque, NM
March 6-8, 2014

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The National Grape and Wine Initiative focuses on research and extension to strengthen the US grape and grape product industries in partnership with academics and government. Grapes are the nation's leading specialty crop and all industry segments including raisin, juice, fresh grape and wine created the NGWI coalition to drive research for maximum productivity, sustainability and competitiveness. NGWI aims to lead the world in consumer value and quality.  

A Farm Bill at Last


Today President Obama signed into law the 2014 Farm Bill. After more than a year of debate, headlines have herlalded the passage of this compromised bill. For specialty crops, including grapes, this bill makes significant improvements in availability of key programs, including value added producer grants, increased funding for pest and disease control, extension of the Market Access Program, as well as Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops and re-authorization of the Clean Plant Network. Great work on the part of those organizations in the specialty crop industry which lobby Congress!


The news is equally significant on research programs  important to specialty crops. Specialty Crop Block Grants (with funding from the Agricultural Marketing Service and administration by state Departments of Agriculture) will see funding increase from $55 million per year to $85 million per year. Included in the Congressional conference committee report is language to encourage multi-state grants under the program. This should be of benefit to the grape industry, where pest and environmental issues such as drought know no boundaries and span several states.


And the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) is once again authorized as a mandatory-funding program - but now this program has a "permanent budget baseline." This means that if the Congress fails to pass a Farm Bill five years from now, the program will continue. (For the past year, there has been no funding available for SCRI because it lacked a budget baseline.) SCRI will now total $80 million per year, although $25 million of that will be cordoned off to address Citrus Greening.  


Perhaps just as important as the fact that SCRI has been re-authorized at a higher funding level, Congress also enacted important reforms to make the process of grant allocation more responsive to the industries' research prioritization. A two-step review process will be implemented, in which the affected specialty crop will rank projects by relevance and impact to the industry, in addition to the current scientific merit review.  


There also have been some technical improvements in the SCRI language. One clarified that the program recognizes the importance of "quality and taste of processed specialty crops" such as raisins, grape juice or wine. Another spelled out the importance of research on remote sensing, an unfunded priority of the National Grape & Wine Initiative for the past four years.  


The National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA) has let us know that it will be working as quickly as feasible to put this program, along with the changes in its administration, into place. NGWI will be working closely with the Agency as it moves through this process.  


In the meantime, the NGWI Theme Committee's will be firing up to outline work on two on-going priorities: sensor & mechanization technology, and continued funding on trunk diseases. In addition, work on cold tolerance and wine grape quality are also under consideration for NGWI research project sponsorship.


Our work is cut out for us, but the action by Congress is welcome news as NGWI continues to prioritize the grape and grape products industry's key research interests, and leverages industry research investment by attracting public sector funds.

NGWI Elects 2014 Officers and Members

The annual meeting of NGWI was held January 27, 2014 in Sacramento, CA. and the 2014 slate of Officers and Members were elected. By a unanimous vote of its members, Rick Stark of Sun-Maid Growers was elected as chair of the initiative, a nationwide coalition representing all segments of the grape industry including: raisin, juice, fresh grape and wine, according to NGWI officials.  


"Rick Stark has been an active participant in this organization virtually since its inception" said Jean-Mari Peltier, president of the national organization. "His experiences as a graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership program have prepared him well to lead NGWI as we seek to expand both our research portfolio and membership base."


NGWI also announced the following elected officers for 2014: John Aguirre of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) as Vice Chair, Richard Smith of California's Paraiso Vineyards as Secretary-Treasurer and Vicky Scharlau of the Washington Association Wine Grape Growers as Past Chair.  


The following members were appointed to terms ending in 2016 Russell Smithyman (Ste. Michelle Wine Estates) for the North-West region, Jerry Lohr (J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines) representing wine and Peter Hoefherr (St. James Winery) for native/hybrid species. Additionally three new Board members for 2014 were announced, Tony Stephen representing the American Vineyard Foundation, Rich Schaefers of Silverado Premium Properties and Jim Anderson of the Missouri Wine & Grape Board were elected as Representatives At Large.


NGWI also elected the following to terms ending in 2017:
  • -   John Aguirre, CAWG
  • -   Greg Gessner, Constellation Brands
  • -   Michael Walker, Constellation Brands
  • -   Deborah Golino, UC Davis/Foundation Plant Services
  • -   Allison Jordon, The Wine Institute
NGWI Annual Meeting Presentations Available

Jean-Mari Peltier noted in her President's report that NGWI's research portfolio is addressing key current issues of importance to the wine and grape industries including  
drought in the West, excessive water in Eastern states, trunk diseases, cold tolerance and cleaning up processing waste water. Several presentations were made addressing these topics which also included updates on key research projects. Links to the presentations can be found below.