President Trump’s budgetary and trade policies may be causing headaches for the wine industry. The president’s 2018 Budget requests $17.9 billion for the USDA budget, a 21 percent decrease from FY 2017. As most of the USDA’s programs are mandatory, the $4.7 billion in cuts probably would come from services that affect the grape growers as well as other farmers.
The Office of Management and Budget’s Blueprint calls for “Reducing funding for USDA’s statistical capabilities…” casting doubt on the agency’s participation in the yearly “Grape Crush Report.” The proposal also called for, “Reducing staffing in USDA’s Service Center Agencies to streamline county office operations, reflect reduced Rural Development workload, and encourage private sector conservation planning.”
There was no mention of either Foreign Agricultural Service, which offers credit guarantees to encourage financing commercial exports of agricultural products, nor was there any mention of the service’s Market Access Program, which helps finance activities to market U.S. agricultural commodities and products worldwide. The Wine Institute, like many other such groups, received about one-third of its 2015 budget, or $7.6 million, from MAP, according to its latest IRS filing.
Champagne Producers Blame Brexit for 2016 Sales Decline – CIVC
Champagne sales fell in 2016 as a weaker pound weighed on British demand in the wake of the Brexit referendum vote, France’s main champagne industry body said on Monday, according to a Reuters report.
Global champagne sales fell 2.1 percent by volume to 306 million bottles in 2016, while order value fell 0.6 percent to 4.71 billion euros. The decline also reflected continued economic weakness in France, where sales fell 2.5 percent to 157 million bottles, the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) said.
Sales to Britain, still the biggest export market by volume, fell 8.7 percent to 31.2 million bottles, the CIVC industry association said. By value, British exports tumbled 14 percent to 440 million euros ($473 million).
Britain’s June vote to leave the European Union caused sterling to fall against the euro and to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985, although it has since edged back from those lows.
However, champagne shipments to the United States, the second-largest export market, rose 6.3 percent by volume and 4.9 percent by value.
Empire Merchants Considers Appeal, State Court
A federal judge in Brooklyn dismissed Empire Merchants’ lawsuit against rival wholesaler Breakthru Beverage and its unit Reliable Churchill, on Friday. On Monday, Empire Merchants’ lawyer – Randy Mastro of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher – said his client was considering all legal options.
“At its core, Empire Merchants’ lawsuit is about a massive bootlegging scheme in which Reliable Churchill was a central participant,” Mastro said in a statement. “Since the lawsuit’s filing, six of Reliable Churchill’s co-conspirators have come forward to corroborate under oath its role in this bootlegging scheme.
“So we are disappointed that the court decided to dismiss the federal lawsuit based on technical legal grounds, but we are considering our appellate options and continue to have state law claims to litigate.”
The lawsuit claimed Reliable Churchill conspired with retailers to smuggle alcohol from Maryland to New York. Local New York shops would buy the cases with cash, which the Maryland retailers would launder and then use to pay their wholesalers.
But U.S. District Judge Allyne Ross dismissed the lawsuit. “Lacking any facts to support the inference of an agreement between alleged co-conspirators, Empire’s claim cannot withstand defendants’ motion to dismiss,” she wrote in her decision.