WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Sunnyside) is leading the charge to seek COVID-19 relief for wine grape growers. He and the co-chair of the Congressional Wine Caucus, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Napa County) have sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to that effect. It was signed by 41 representatives from both parties.
Wine grapes were not included in the list of commodities eligible for assistance. Newhouse estimates the COVID-19 pandemic has had a $1 billion negative impact on the Washington wine economy alone. Some of the commodities added to the list that are eligible for assistance are aloe leaves, maple sap, and pumpkins.
“We note that many of the newly-added commodities had far fewer comments and specific data than that offered by our nation’s wine grape growers and their representative organizations,” the letter states. “We urge you and your staff to reconsider what is clear and obvious: the COVID-19 pandemic has produced tremendously adverse economic consequences for growers of wine grapes.”
Members of Congress from the Pacific Northwest that signed the letter include Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Spokane), Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R- Battle Ground), and Rep. Peter Defazio (D-Portland).