Local agriculture industries may soon feel the effects of the federal government shutdown, which began Dec. 22, 2018.
“One of the biggest parts of the Farm Services Agency is shut down, so local growers cannot apply for any services the FSA provides,” Kamal Bagri, San Joaquin County assistant agricultural commissioner, said on Monday. “They’re all on hold.”
Bagri said her office works with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue export certifications, and that the USDA’s Stockton office has closed as a result of the federal government shutdown. As a result, Bagri said those services may be interrupted as well.
Stuart Spencer, executive director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, said on Monday that winemakers applying for new labels are the most likely group to be affected by the federal government shutdown.
“If you develop a new package or a new label, you need to get approval before you can start selling it and there maybe a hiccup at that point because of the shutdown,” Spencer said. “The only other thing I’ve heard of that might be a potential problem is the Grape Crush Report.”
Published each year by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Spencer said the Crush Report summarizes the grape harvest and price per ton for the previous year and may be delayed due to the shutdown.
“While that doesn’t affect people’s day-to-day operations, it does affect grape growers’ contracts moving forward,” Spencer said.
Last Thursday was the deadline for wineries to submit their grape purchase data from the 2018 harvest to the NASS, according to a press release issued that day by the California Association of Winegrape Growers.
Although the preliminary report for 2019 was scheduled to be published Feb. 9 and the final report was scheduled for publication on March 8, the press release said, the report may be delayed if the shutdown continues.
The Crush Report, which the industry pays for, provides essential financial information to California winegrape growers,” Bill Berryhill, a Ceres-area grower and chair of the CAWG board of directors said in the press release. “Lengthy delays in publishing the report threaten to complicate contract negotiations, interfere with lending activity and make it difficult for growers to budget for the year ahead.”