November 30, 2018

Wyden Calls for Assistance for Winegrape Growers Threatened by Wildfire Smoke Related Losses

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today urged colleagues to provide additional federal assistance for winegrape growers facing serious losses from wildfire smoke damage.

In a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee leadership, Wyden requested that any year-end funding bill include an extension of the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program to provide a measure of compensation for winegrape growers and other producers affected by natural disasters. Wyden also requested additional funding to support research on the effects of smoke exposure to winegrapes to help limit future losses associated with smoke exposure.

“Like 2017, the 2018 wildfire season subjected winegrapes to persistent exposure to heavy smoke. Many purchasers have informed growers that their smoke-tainted grapes are not acceptable for winemaking, forcing growers to leave their grapes on the vine or sell them for vastly reduced prices,” Wyden wrote. “Additionally, the effects of smoke exposure on winegrapes is relatively unknown, which further exacerbates the economic damage inflicted on producers during bad smoke years.”

Congress established the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program in the FY 2018 spending bill to assist producers, including winegrape growers affected by wildfire smoke, following a historic year for natural disasters in 2017.

A full copy of the letter can be found here.