Dear MVA Members:
Please read the message following mine, from Jennifer Montgomery, Director of Grassroots & Political Affairs with Wine America.
We are asking that you contact your US Senator stating opposition to these two amendments. Talking points are attached.
Please let us know what action you have taken and we will relay this data to Jennifer. Votes on the amendments are expected in the next few days, so your immediate attention is requested.
Roy Blunt: (202) 224-5721
Thank you for your immediate attention to this important issue.
Cory Bomgaars, President
Missouri Vintners Assn
FROM JENNIFER MONTGOMERY:
As you know, the Farm Bill is current up for debate on the Senate floor. As we are monitoring the amendments that are being introduced for the bill, two amendments have surfaced that would have a significant detrimental impact on our industry regarding : 1) MARKET ACCESS PROGRAM (MAP), 2) VALUE-ADDED PRODUCER GRANT (VAPG)
The first one, introduced by Senator Coburn (R-OK), would reduce funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) by $40 million annually (to $160 million per year). In addition, the amendment would prohibit use of MAP funds for wine tastings, animal spa products, reality television shows, or cat or dog food.
It is a very dangerous amendment that we need to strongly oppose. If an amendment such as this is successful, there very likely will be future amendments to eliminate MAP funding for other agricultural products, leading to the ultimate demise of the program.
PLEASE CONTACT YOUR SENATORS ASAP URGING STRONG OPPOSITION TO THE COBURN AMENDMENT. IT SHOULD BE EMPHASIZED HOW TREMENDOUSLY SUCCESSFUL AND COST-EFFECTIVE MAP IS IN HELPING MAINTAIN AND EXPAND U.S. AGRICULTURAL EXPORTS, PROTECT AND CREATE AMERICAN JOBS, STRENGTHEN FARM INCOME AND OFFSET THE GOVERNMENT-SUPPORTED FINANCIAL ADVANTAGES AFFORDED OUR INTERNATIONAL COMPETITORS. ATTACHED IS A FACT SHEET FOR YOUR USE.
The other amendment, introduced by Senator Ayotte (R-NH), pertains to the Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program and would prohibit wineries from participating in the program. This amendment apparently stems from the Senator’s belief that only large wineries receive VAPG funds and that it defeats the purpose of the program, but we as an industry know and can demonstrate how SMALL wineries benefit as much if not more from VAPG funds. Therefore, we need strong grassroots participation to ensure that the wine industry is not prevented from applying for Valued-Added Producer Grants.
PLEASE CONTACT YOUR SENATORS ASAP URGING STRONG OPPOSITION TO THE AYOTTE AMENDMENT. IT SHOULD BE EMPHASIZED HOW TREMENDOUSLY SUCCESSFUL THIS PROGRAM IS IN HELPING THE GROWTH OF SMALL BUSINESSES, PROTECTING AND CREATING AMERICAN JOBS, AND STRENGTHENING FARM INCOME.
I’ll be happy to provide any further information you need on these issues or answer any questions you may have. Votes on amendments are expected over the next few days. I’ll keep you posted as the situation more fully develops.
Thanks very much for your help!
Jennifer K. Montgomery
Director of Grassroots and Political Affairs
1015 18th St., NW, Suite 500
Washington DC, 20036
(202) 347-6341 FAX