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Assembly Ag Committee set to take up AB 1861 on April 10.

Tim Hearden, Western Farm Press

March 26, 2024

1 Min Read
Glassy-winged sharpshooter
Glassy-winged sharpshooter.USDA ARS

The California Assembly is set to begin deliberations on a bill that would extend a program to help defend wine producers from Pierce’s disease and invasive species.

The bill by Assemblywoman Dawn Addis, D-Morro Bay, would continue the work of the state Department of Food and Agriculture’s program to combat the deadly vine disease and its main vector, the glassy-winged sharpshooter, until 2031.

Created in 2001, the Pierce’s Disease Control Program provides research and mitigation measures to curb the spread of the bacterial infection that causes wilting, leaf scorch and fruit shriveling in grapevines. The program was set to expire in 2026.

The Assembly Agriculture Committee is scheduled to hold its first hearing on the extension bill on April 10.

“Over the last 23 years, the Pierce’s Disease Control Program has been fundamental in addressing the challenges posed by Pierce’s disease and other pests and diseases,” said Natalie Collins, president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers. CAWG and the Wine Institute are cosponsoring the legislation.

Destructive pest

Since the 1990s, the glassy-winged sharpshooter has been one of the most devastating vineyard pests, spreading a disease that hinders vines’ ability to draw in moisture. Pierce’s disease has caused millions of dollars in damage throughout the state, bill proponents say.

Related:GWSS: A pest to watch out for

The program operates with federal and industry funds, including grower assessments used for research, outreach and related activities.

If the bill passes, the program’s extension will be subject to a grower referendum in 2025, according to the Wine Institute. The last referendum in 2020 passed with 78% approval from growers.

California leads the nation in winegrape production, accounting for 80% of all U.S. wine and generating an estimated $170.5 billion in annual economic activity, according to the Wine Institute.

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Pierce's Disease

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