Thumbs Up for Pierce's Disease Levy

California winegrape growers approve five-year extension of self-assessment

by Wines & Vines staff
Glassy winged sharpshooter pierce's disease
Glassy-winged sharpshooter wings and tail. Source: CDFA
Sacramento, Calif. -- An overwhelming majority of California’s winegrape growers voted in favor of continuing the statewide winegrape assessment to battle Pierce’s disease and its vector, the glassy-winged sharpshooter. The tally released this morning showed that 84% of the 2,792 valid votes were cast in favor of the extension. The total represented 45% of eligible voters, the Pierce’s Disease Control Program announced.

The grower-funded PD Control Program was founded in 2000, focused on research to prevent the spread and reduce the danger of Pierce’s disease, which had decimated the winegrape vineyards in Southern California’s Temecula Valley and then spread northward. First extended five years ago, the assessment was ready to sunset in 2011, if the recent referendum were not approved.

Assemblywoman Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), chair of the state’s Assembly Select Committee on Wine, is co-author of SB 2 with Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro (D-Eureka), which mandated the referendum. Earlier, Evans stated that the program “has not only kept this pest under control, it has resulted in a sustained reduction of the sharpshooter population. It shows how government and business can work together effectively. This success was the best argument to keep the program going.”
Virtually all major grape and wine associations in California had come out in support of the extension, including the California Association of Winegrape Growers, Family Winemakers of California and the Wine Institute, citing inter-governmental and industry coordination that made the PD/GWSS program “an excellent model for pest control programs,” according to Evans’ office.
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