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PD/GWSS Board cuts assessment rate for 2008

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Pierce’s Disease/Glassy-winged Sharpshooter Board voted to set the annual wine industry assessment rate at US$1/$1000 of winegrape purchase value for the 2008 harvest. This is a reduction of US$0.50 from the 2007 rate, and the second year in a row that the Board has reduced the rate, which had been US$2/$1000 of crop value from 2002–2006.

Board treasurer Jim Unti, who estimated potential revenue at different assessment rates based on estimated crop volume and prices, said, “It probably will not be a huge crop this year, and we may have a little less than last year, but in terms of prices, growers should get at least what they got last year, and in some areas of the state they will probably get more.”

The rate reduction was a result of concerns expressed by grower members on the board the past two years about the surplus funds that the board has consistently carried over from year to year that have totaled about US$10m for each of the past two fiscal years. Board members agreed that some surplus should be kept available each year to deal with emergencies of to backfill potential loss of funds from other sources for necessary programs for GWSS detection and control; however, surpluses have been higher than expected due to fewer funds awarded for research proposals than anticipated.

The FY 2008/09 assessment would provide estimated revenues of US$2.65m, while compares with revenues of US$3.9m for FY 2007/08 and US$4.9m for FY 2006/07. The board voted to approve a proposed budget for FY 2008/09 with expenditures of US$5.5m resulting in a surplus carryover of US$7.4m for the following year.

Proposed expenditures include US$2.3m for new basic research projects, US$300,000 for nursery treatments, US$275,000 for administration, US$143,000 for public outreach, US$77,000 for biocontrol efforts and a new allocation of US$37,000 for economic assessment of PD on the industry and the economic efforts of different control methods. Also included was US$1m for ‘new projects’ that could include allocations for commercialization of research products, and US$1m for county programs – an insurance allocation that may or may not be spent depending on need.

It should be noted that the industry-assessed board funds are targeted for PD research and special projects as decided upon by the industry members on the board. The overall California PD Control Program has a separate budget using state general funds and federal funds, expected to total US$18.75m for FY 2008/09, that is used for GWSS detection and control.

Source: America’s Wine Business Monthly, August 2008

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