John Kline’s StopThePork website has gone dark since May, 2011 but before that it was common for him to remind voters how Congress was “helping” grape growers citing examples like :
U.S. wine sales last year topped $30 billion, and yet California and New York lawmakers used your money to provide them $90 million in research. This year (circa 2009) they want $7.6 million more. The table grape industry received its own $3.5 million grant, while the Center for Grape Genetics in upstate New York (growing region in conjunction with Cornell University) has pulled in $2.1 million in each of the last 4 years.
Well as the House races to close business so that they can return to campaigning for re-election, it appears that Grapes are back on the table.
Yes, the House could be processing components of Chairman Kline’s Education Reform program (which has been called “bad for students and bad for taxpayers” by the US Chamber of Commerce) or his Workforce Improvement Act of 2012 or a 5-year extension of the Farm Bill, instead the House appears ready to tackle “burden of regulations” affecting grape producers.
Yep, H.R.3110 – The GRAPE Act … aka Grape Region Accelerated Production and Efficiency Act of 2011 is getting a prime push … will it create jobs … nah, it will allow workers to work longer hours.
Gosh … remember when the concern was that Congress was “earmarking” legislation that benefited a limited group that might possibly only help a particular Congressman’s next election chances … as opposed to addressing national issues.
Well, here is the press release explaining the rationale for this legislation :
Sep 28, 2011
During an appearance at Jim Bedient’s vineyard in Branchport this morning, Congressman Tom Reed announced that he will soon introduce the Grape Region Accelerated Production and Efficiency (GRAPE) Act of 2011 in the House of Representatives. Reed’s bill will extend an Hours of Service exemption for grape haulers from 100 to 175 air miles from of the point of harvest to a processing facility during a harvest period.
“This is an issue I have heard much about from grape farmers,” Reed said. “This legislation is similar to a previous provision our grape farmers enjoyed which expired in 2009. The grape industry is an important part of the Western New York economy in both the agriculture and tourism sectors. It is important that we recognize that and try to do something about burdensome regulation which hurts their business.”
“The purpose of extending the requirement from 100 to 175 air miles is to allow growers to get their produce from a given point in the Finger Lakes to many of the processing facilities downstate and along Lake Erie,” Reed explained. “Given the perishable nature of grapes, being able to get their product to processors more than 100 miles away in an expedient manner is critical to the industry.”
Reed was joined at the announcement by Jim Bedient, a local grower who added insight to the legislation, and Jim Trezise, President of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, at the announcement.
“In tough economic times we need to look for places where we can remove regulatory burdens and government impediments to job retention and growth,” Reed observed. “Giving our grape farmers the freedom to haul grapes to harvest when their products are ripe is a common sense, no-cost step that we can take to protect our farmers way of life.”
No doubt this is critical legislation and with an estimated 225 members from both House and Senate who belong to the Congressional Wine Caucus, the bill may squeak though … yet, it makes you wonder why this took almost a year … and yet never needed to have a Committee Hearing … just right to the House Floor … yep, this is election season and the House can hand a gift to Tom Reed in his contest against Nate Shinagawa, the Democrat challenger in NY-23.
As far as the farmers in Minnesota, better start growing grapes if you want the Republican-controlled House to address your needs.