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Returned Ballots Presently 15% Short of Threshold for Validation Growers Urged to Return All Ballots for PD/GWSS Referendum

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yes-pd-boardSacramento, CALIF, April 30, 2015…. Over 1,000 outstanding ballots need to be returned by May 11 in order to validate the vote on continuing the Pierce’s Disease/Glassy-winged Sharpshooter (PD/GWSS) Referendum, according to information presented at a PD/GWSS board meeting Tuesday. Presently, about 25 percent of ballots have been returned, but law requires that the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) receive a minimum of 40 percent of all ballots in order to count the votes for extending the program until 2021.

“The PD/GWSS assessment has been one of our industry’s most effective and proven means of proactively addressing the growing threat of winegrape diseases and pests in California. Losing the ability to quickly and efficiently address emerging threats like Pierce’s disease, European grapevine moth (EGVM), red blotch (GRBaV), vine mealybug (VMB) and brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) because of unreturned ballots would be tragic,” said Family Winemakers of California’s President Paul Kronenberg.

The CDFA sent over 7,000 ballots on April 10 to every grower (whether individuals or companies) who paid the assessment on grapes crushed in 2014. Therefore, many growers may have received more than one ballot. They are not duplicates. Each ballot should be voted and returned by May 11. Growers who did not receive a ballot can contact (916) 900-5018.

The referendum has strong industry-wide backing. In addition to Family Winemakers, the California Winegrape Growers Association and the Wine Institute, which are jointly funding a campaign to support the referendum, nearly 20 regional winegrape organizations from every corner of the state are urging their members to cast their ballots in favor of extending the PD/GWSS assessment.

At least 40 percent of the estimated 7,000 eligible voting entities must cast ballots for the referendum to be valid. Passage of the referendum requires either: (1) Of those who vote, 65 percent vote “yes,” and the “yes” voters must have paid the majority of the assessment that was paid by those who voted; or (2) Of those who vote, a majority vote “yes,” and the “yes” voters must have paid 65 percent or more of the assessment that was paid by those who voted. Voting results will be announced two weeks after voting concludes.

“The failure to renew this program would squander the tremendous gains we have made in preventing the spread of Pierce’s disease and jeopardize the next generation of grapevines and the tools we need to battle the disease,” said California Association of Winegrape Growers President John Aguirre.

In place since 2001, the assessment has been reauthorized by growers twice, in 2005
and 2010. The assessment raises essential dollars for research aimed primarily at addressing the threat posed by PD and GWSS and other designated pests.

“Every dollar raised by wineries and growers leverages by 8 or 9 times the state and federal funds used to cover the significant costs of the GWSS monitoring and control programs. It is essential that all wineries and growers fill out their ballots and return them no later than May 11.  Failure to pass the referendum would lead to the spread of PD, by GWSS, infecting everyone’s vineyards in a short time,” urged Mike Falasco of the Wine Institute.

For additional information on the PD/GWSS Referendum, visit www.YesonPDref.org.

The YES on the PD/GWSS Referendum campaign is sponsored by the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG), Family Winemakers of California (FWC) and the Wine Institute.

California Association of Winegrape Growers represents the growers of more than 60 percent of the gross grape tonnage crushed for wine and concentrate in California. The statewide association is dedicated to enhancing the business of growing winegrapes through advocacy, research and education, and industry leadership.

Family Winemakers of California was founded in 1990 to represent the small family-owned winery before the California Legislature and state regulatory agencies. FWC is dedicated to advocating for the interests of its 400+ members to freely produce, market and sell wine.

Wine Institute is a public policy advocacy association representing more than 1,000 wineries and affiliated businesses. It supports legislative and regulatory advocacy, international market development, media relations, scientific research and education programs that benefit the entire California wine industry.

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