May 2, 2024




This Week's eNews Includes:

CAWG News:

  • DOL Issues New Rules for H-2A Workers
  • House and Senate Release Outlines for the 2024 Farm Bill
  • Small Business Month
  • Can the State Afford New Laws?
  • The Winegrape Update - May 8, 2024 @ 3 PM
  • U.S Sustainable Winegrowing Summit
  • CAWG Foundation 5th Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament

Industry News:

  • Labor Issues in Full Bloom This Spring for California Agriculture Employers: Here's What You Need to Know
  • Wine Country Fire Threat Spreads to Insurance Coverage
  • Fast Food Operators Rushing to Use AI in the Wake of Minimum Wage Hikes
  • Assembly Democrats Kill Bill to Ban Use of NDAs in Legislative Negotiations
  • Wine Institute Developing New Communications Initiative

Upcoming Events:

  • CSWA Hosting In-Person Dry Farming Workshops
  • Webinar: California's New Workplace Violence Prevention Law: A Deep Dive in Preparation for the July 1st Compliance Deadline
  • UCCE Pear and Grape Field Day
  • UC Davis Grape Day in Oakville
  • Vineyard Irrigation Masterclass


DOL Issues New Rules for H-2A Workers

On April 26, the Department of Labor issued a final rule, “Improving Protections for Workers in Temporary Agricultural Employment in the United States” (“Farmworker Protection Rule). The final rule introduced several provisions aimed at improving worker advocacy, clarifying termination policies, enhancing transparency in foreign labor recruitment, ensuring timely wage adjustments, and improving transportation safety for farmworkers within the H-2A temporary agricultural employment program.

While the new rule takes effect on June 28, H-2A applications filed before August 29 will be processed under the applicable existing rules. Applications filed on or after that date will be processed in accordance with the Farmworker Protection Rule.

Fisher Phillips, CAWG associate member provided a comprehensive overview of the new Rule, with 8 Key Takeaways for Ag Employers.

There are several issues that agricultural groups have highlighted regarding the new rule, especially as they relate to the inherent conflicts with the exemption of farm workers from the NLRA and U.S. Supreme Court precedent regarding union access to farm property.


Final Rule FAQ

Employers Guide to Final Rule

House and Senate Release Outlines for the 2024 Farm Bill

This week, both the U.S. House and Senate released outlines of the 2024 Farm Bill, providing a first look after years of deliberation in Washington.

House Agriculture Committee Chair, GT Thompson (R-PA), has released a detailed summary of the legislation, which was developed through extensive bipartisan discussions with committee members and stakeholders in the agriculture sector. Key priorities advocated by CAWG that are included in the text include notable boosts in funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD), enhanced credit accessibility for farmers, improved disaster relief programs with expanded eligibility, increased allocations for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, and dedicated funding for the advancement of mechanization and automation technologies for specialty crops.

Chairman Thompson issued the following statement after sharing a title-by-title overview of the bipartisan policies and priorities included in the 2024 farm bill: "This bill is the culmination of an extensive and transparent process, which included soliciting feedback from members of both political parties, stakeholder input from across the nation, and some tough conversations. Each title of this farm bill reflects a commitment to the American farmer and viable pathways to funding those commitments while remaining responsive to the political dynamics of the 118th Congress. The Committee on Agriculture will markup this bill on May 23, and I am hopeful for unanimous support in our endeavor to bring stability to producers, protect our nation’s food security, and revitalize rural America."

The House title-by-title document can be found here.

U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) also unveiled the framework for the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act, which contains more than 100 bipartisan bills to shape the upcoming 2024 Farm Bill. 

The Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act section-by-section is available here. 

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, of which CAWG is a member, released the following press release applauding the movement of the Farm Bill.

Small Business Month

This week, Governor Newsom declared the month of May to be, “Small Business Month 2024.” In doing so, Newsom said the following:


Small businesses and entrepreneurs accelerate economic growth and mobility in California, creating two-thirds of net new jobs, building wealth, innovating to solve global problems, launching future growth industries, and defining main streets across our local communities.


California’s small businesses account for more than 98 percent of total businesses in the state and employ more than 7 million people – nearly half of the state’s private sector workforce.


Most Californians would agree with the governor in recognizing the value of the Golden State’s small businesses. In that vein, CAWG works daily in advocating on issues that are important to our growers, including fighting for small growers all over the state.


In appreciating small businesses, ponder the sad reality that most small businesses struggle to keep their doors open. It is literally a coin toss that a new business will still be around in five years. 


While California’s numbers are slightly better than national data, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) sets a low bar. BLS reports that 18% of small businesses in the nation fail within their first year, while 50% fail after five years, and approximately 65% fail by their tenth year in business.


With all of that in mind, it might be good for policymakers in Sacramento to consider how pending legislation affects small businesses. The CalChamber 2024 Job Killer List might be a good place for them to start.  

Quote of the Week

“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bonds.”

-Thomas Jefferson

Can the State Afford New Laws?


As legislation is now being heard in the Appropriations Committees of the Senate and Assembly, the question for each and every bill is, “Can we afford it?” But, the “we” in that question is not the public. For these committees, the question is narrowly focused on whether the State Budget can afford the proposed new law.


For example, AB 2149 (Connolly, D-San Rafael) requires that every heavy gate in the state must be inspected once every five years. The Assembly Committee on Appropriations reports costs for the courts to deal with litigation and costs to reimburse local agencies. However, the committee does not address the costs for the hundreds of thousands of gates owned by businesses and private residents.


The Department of Finance has told the legislature in clear terms that they oppose any legislation that increases costs for state agencies unless that legislation also includes funding to pay those costs. Many committee analyses include the following canned statement, “According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the General Fund faces a structural deficit in the tens of billions of dollars over the next several fiscal years.”


While it is important to recognize the state budget has a structural problem, it is also crucial to understand that the state budget is tied directly to the economy. If lawmakers want to only consider costs relative to state finances, they must consider that when costs of compliance for Californians are too high, the economy takes a hit and that economic downturn lowers tax revenues.


Mel Brooks probably had it right in History of the World: Part 1. Maybe we don’t need all these new laws.

The Winegrape Update - Heat Illness Prevention

May 8, 2024 @ 3 PM

Register Here

Join CAWG for The Winegrape Update, a monthly virtual gathering designed exclusively for members. This platform offers a unique opportunity to connect with our dedicated staff, industry guests, and fellow members. Share your challenges and opportunities and directly influence CAWG's understanding of the issues you face.


May's agenda includes a presentation and discussion on heat illness prevention from Andrew Sommer of Fisher Phillips and Michael Miiller, CAWG's Director of Government Relations. The presentation will include a general discussion of what is required under the existing outdoor work regulation and an update on the pending indoor work regulation. 


As we head into the summer months and temperatures begin to rise, growers must take actions to protect workers from heat illness. This presentation will provide valuable information about what is required under the law.  

SAVE THE DATE: Next month's Winegrape Update will be held on June 12, focusing on the Pierce’s Disease Control Program and their work and research to help growers. Register here.

U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit

The 2024 U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit, hosted by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance and co-hosts from California, Washington, New York, and Oregon, was a productive and successful event. Held at Wine & Roses in Lodi, California, the summit brought together industry leaders, experts, and stakeholders to explore cutting-edge sustainable and climate-beneficial practices in vineyards and wineries across the U.S.

The summit kicked off with a Sustainable Vineyard and Winery Tour, showcasing two CAWG Members, KG Vineyard Management and LangeTwins, and their best practices in sustainable wine growing. Participants had the opportunity to learn from industry experts and witness firsthand the innovative techniques being adopted in the vineyards.

On the second day, both in-person and virtual attendees participated in engaging sessions and panel discussions. Highlights included discussions on the importance of sustainability for the U.S. wine industry, consumer perceptions of sustainability, and actionable strategies for telling a sustainable story.

Overall, the 2024 U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit provided a platform for industry stakeholders to share ideas, gain insights, and build a community dedicated to sustainability in the wine industry.

CAWG Foundation 5th Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament

Get ready to tee off for a good cause at the California Association of Winegrape Growers Foundation's 5th Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament!

Register today and join us on Monday, May 20, at the scenic Wildhorse Golf Club in Davis, CA. 

The scholarship program is specifically for high school seniors whose parent/guardian(s) are employed by a CA winegrape grower. Since the program’s inception in 1998, the Foundation has awarded $645,500 in scholarships to help students pursue higher education. 

Tournament registration will begin at 8:30 AM, with a shotgun start at 9:30 AM. We will be playing a four-person scramble. The day will consist of fun and games, a hole-in-one contest, and an awards reception with prizes, drinks, and hors d'oeuvres. 

Even if you don't golf, you can still be a part of the fun! We are looking for volunteers, raffle prizes, and vendor sponsors. Please complete this brief survey if you are interested in volunteering.

  • Vendor Hole Sponsor & Raffle Prizes: If you have an item you would like to donate to the raffle or if you are a vendor interested in sponsoring a hole, please let us know by completing the survey.
  • Volunteers: Please join us for a fun day out on the course by volunteering. If interested please select the times you are available. We are looking for volunteers to help set up (registration, raffle items, games on course); manage the games on the course, and a floater to provide those on the course a break.

Hotel Recommendations

Download Golf Tournament Flyer

Industry News

Labor Issues in Full Bloom This Spring for California Agriculture Employers: Here's What You Need to Know

California's agriculture employers are facing new challenges this spring due to two major developments. Fisher Phillips, LLP published an article outlining key points and the latest developments on these issues. We have summarized them below - read the full article here.

California's New Notice for Agirultual Employers:

The Wage Theft Prevention Act has required California employers to provide a written notice containing certain information to each nonexempt employee at the time of hire since 2012. AB 636, enacted in October 2023, expanded the notice requirements, including additional information about federal or state disaster declarations and a new supplemental notice for H-2A workers. AB 636 took effect on January 1, 2024. H-2A employers in California were required to provide the new supplemental notice starting March 15, 2024.

Union Organizers Target Farmworkers in California:

Last month, the National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE) issued a press release regarding farmworkers' claims that they were tricked into signing union cards to receive relief payments through the USDA's Farm and Food Worker Relief Grant Program. Union organizers may have targeted California farmworkers due to the state's new card check law, making it easier for workers to organize into unions. Agricultural employers should be prepared for continued efforts by labor organizing groups.

Wine Country Fire Threat Spreads to Insurance Coverage

Two North Bay Congressmen, Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) and Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), are addressing concerns over wildfires and insurance in California. They recently held a press conference at Coffey Park to discuss disaster resilience legislation. The legislation aims to provide incentives for home hardening in fire-prone areas, offering grants and tax credits for mitigation efforts.

The Congressmen are responding to insurance companies pulling out of the California market, leaving homeowners and renters vulnerable. The legislation, known as HR 7849, the Disaster Resiliency and Coverage Act of 2024, seeks to provide solutions to the insurance crisis. It is designed to encourage insurance companies to rejoin the market and offer more affordable policies. Thompson and Huffman emphasized the importance of addressing both access to insurance and affordability and the need for builders to continue providing housing despite insurance challenges. The legislation is part of a broader effort to improve disaster resilience and mitigate wildfire risks in California.

Read More

Fast Food Operators Rushing to Use AI in the Wake of Minimum Wage Hikes

Following California's new $20-an-hour minimum wage for fast-food industry workers, quick-service restaurants in the state are rapidly increasing their adoption of technology. The surge in AI technology is positioning California as a focal point for what many analysts believe is the next major development in the fast food and beverage industry.

An LA Times article writes that Harshraj Ghai, owner of 180 fast-food restaurants in California, is responding to the state's new $20 minimum wage by implementing changes to offset labor costs. To avoid overtime pay, he's capping workers' hours, adjusting operating hours, and accelerating the use of technology, especially AI. Ghai plans to install self-service kiosks at all locations and is testing AI for drive-through orders. While AI-driven drive-throughs are not yet perfect, they have the potential to revolutionize fast food.

The minimum wage increase has prompted many in the industry to invest in automation, with self-service kiosks becoming more common. AI has the added benefit of upselling and driving higher sales. Despite initial challenges, AI could significantly reduce labor costs and improve efficiency in the long term.

Ghai estimates that if he can get it to perform at 90%, a store employee might have to step in to take over an order just three times every hour, freeing up the worker to do other tasks. Similar to the thought of using automation in agriculture and allowing agricultural employees to expand and further develop their farming skill sets.

Read More

Assembly Democrats Kill Bill to Ban Use of NDAs in Legislative Negotiations

The California Assembly’s Elections Committee recently killed AB 2654, which aimed to ban the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in legislative negotiations. Introduced by Assemblymember Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), the bill aimed to promote transparency in government, especially after the controversy surrounding NDAs in the fast food minimum wage law negotiations (PaneraGate).

Despite its straightforward goal, the bill faced opposition from Democrats and the California Chamber of Commerce. Only two Republicans supported the bill in committee, while Democrats blocked its progress. Assemblymember Bill Essayli (R-Riverside) criticized the decision, arguing that NDAs have no place in legislative negotiations and that the public has a right to transparency. The bill's rejection highlights concerns about special interests influencing legislation and the need for greater transparency in the legislative process.

Read more in an article published by The OC Register.

Wine Institute Developing New Communications Initiative

At the U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit in Lodi this last week, Bobby Koch, President of Wine Insitute, announced a communications initiative aimed at educating consumers and policymakers about the unique and positive aspects of wine. Koch emphasized the need for the wine industry to proactively share its story amid current challenges.

During the presentation, Koch shared concerns regarding the World Health Organization's focus on reducing per capita alcohol consumption and the efforts of other beverage sectors to differentiate their products. Koch emphasized the wine industry's commitment to sustainability as a key component of the initiative, stating that sustainability practices help the industry adapt, increase productivity, and reduce risks. He called for the support and engagement of the entire wine sector to ensure the success of the initiative.

CAWG will be engaged with Wine Institute on this industry initiative to ensure broad support for the promotion of California's winegrape growers and industry.

Upcoming Events and Trainings

CSWA Hosting In-Person Dry Farming Workshops

The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance is hosting three upcoming Dry-Farming Workshops in Napa, Mendocino, and Paso Robles. The workshops will include a discussion and demonstration on establishing a dry-farmed vineyard in coastal regions. the program will include rootstock selection, land preparation, vine spacing, planting process, and watering regiment for the first two years.

Mendocino Workshop: Tuesday, May 14, 2024

8 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Pacini Vineyard

3150 Mill Creek Road 

Ukiah, CA 95482

Napa Workshop: Tuesday, May 21, 2024

8 a.m. - 11 a.m. 

Frog's Leap Winery

Rutherford, CA 94573

Field location: End of Galleron Lane (details sent after registration)

Paso Robles Workshop: Thursday, May 30, 2024

Tablas Creek Vineyard 

8 a.m. - 11 a.m. 

9339 Adelaida Road

Paso Robles, CA 93446

Webinar: California's New Workplace Violence Prevention Law: A Deep Dive in Preparation for the July 1st Compliance Deadline

Join Fisher Phillips, LLP for a webinar focused on preparing for SB 553 requiring employers to create and implement a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP) and conduct training by July 1, 2024. Developing and implementing the WVPP has been a significant undertaking for employers, as the law requires comprehensive multi-prong procedures including identifying and evaluating unsafe conditions in the workplace, and reporting, responding to, and investigating workplace violence incidents. Employers must also conduct training for employees that covers their tailored WVPPs and the workplace violence hazards specific to their employees’ jobs and answer any employee questions.  

When and Where:

  • May 16, Zoom

Register Here

UCCE Pear and Grape Field Day

The University of California Cooperative Extension is hosting a field day related to both pear and grape production to share new research. The two-part, indoor and outdoor event will allow attendees the option of spending more time on one crop or dividing their time equally between pears and grapes. Outdoor speakers will be separated by expertise in pears or grapes and indoor presentations will cover topics related to both crops on large and small scales. Topics include:

  • Water in Orchards and Vineyards
  • Insect pests of perennial crops
  • Birds and Biological Control Methods
  • Pathogens of grapes and pears

When and Where:

  • May 28, 8 AM - 3 PM, Hopland, CA

Register Here

UC Davis Grape Day in Oakville

The Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis will host a Grape Day at the Oakville Station. Topics include:

  • Wild grapes as a reservoir of genetic diversity for the future of viticulture
  • Grapevine breeding at UC Davis
  • Is regenerative the path forward for winegrape production?
  • Use of weather information for addressing frost, heat, and spray drift risk
  • Effects of clone and rootstock on productivity and resilience: Early insights from the Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon rootstock trial
  • Working toward higher-resolution automated irrigation

When and Where:

  • June 5, 8 AM - 2 PM, Robert Cabral Agriculture Center, Oakville Station

Register Here

Vineyard Irrigation Masterclass

The Sonoma County Vineyard Technical Group along with Sonoma County Junior College (SRJC), Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, and Partners are hosting a Vineyard Irrigation Masterclass at SRJC's Shone Farm. This half-day program will provide innovative ideas and insights on mindful irrigation strategies. The program will explore a variety of topics, including:

  • The intersection and impact of site and rootstock selection on irrigation needs.
  • Techniques for irrigating to enhance wine quality.
  • Tools for monitoring irrigation demands.
  • Optimal timing for water application and strategies for water conservation.
  • Guidelines on application frequency and data interpretation.
  • Managing irrigation at remote locations.

When and Where:

  • June 6, 9:30 AM - 2:45 PM, Robert Cabral Agriculture Center, Oakville Station

Register Here



8 - The Winegrape Update

20 - CAWG Foundation 5th Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament


5 - West Coast Smoke Exposure Task Force Smoke Summit

12 - The Winegrape Update


21 - CAWG 50th Anniversary Celebration



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