With growers and winemakers facing unprecedented losses from the devastating West Coast wildfires, leaders of 10 wine industry groups are seeking help from Congress to obtain immediate disaster relief.
Specifically, they are requesting an extension of the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) to cover 2020 wildfire-related losses. Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, WHIP+ provides disaster payments to producers to offset losses from wildfires, hurricanes and other qualifying natural disasters. In 2019, California growers received WHIP+ payments for 2018 covered crop losses due to wildfires, as well as quality losses due to smoke exposure.
“Farmers are resilient and they accept the many risks inherent to agriculture, but 2020 has produced more challenges than any could have ever anticipated. It’s absolutely essential that Congress extends disaster assistance to California winegrape growers,” said California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) President John Aguirre.
A jointly signed letter was recently to Congressional leaders by the 10 organizations, including CAWG, California Farm Bureau Federation, Oregon Wine Board, Oregon Winegrowers Association, Oregon Farm Bureau, Washington Winegrowers, Washington Farm Bureau, WineAmerica, Wine Institute and Winegrape Growers of America.