California congressional delegation asks USDA to make winegrape growers eligible for direct relief
–California’s congressional delegation wants winegrape growers to receive financial relief through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
Beginning May 26, CFAP intended to provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to agricultural producers who suffered losses due to COVID-19 related market and supply chain disruptions. Winegrapes were not among the 43 commodities listed under CFAP specialty crops.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has broadly undermined market prices for California winegrapes and we believe the U.S. Department of Agriculture should include winegrapes on the list of specialty crops eligible for direct payments in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program,” stated a July 6 letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, signed by 25 representatives and two senators.
The delegation’s letter follows a May 19 letter from the California Association of Winegrape Growers and the California Farm Bureau Federation to Perdue, which also urged USDA to allow winegrape growers access to COVID-19 assistance. The letter cited several factors contributing to growers’ current and future economic losses.
“The letter from the California congressional delegation is a tremendous boost to our efforts to seek vital financial assistance for winegrape growers,” CAWG President John Aguirre said. “We applaud and appreciate the leadership of Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Napa) in crafting the letter and garnering support from his colleagues.”