Sacramento, Calif. — July 5, 2007 – To enable continuing research efforts aimed at controlling the spread of Pierce’s disease (PD) and the glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS), the PD/GWSS Board at their June 28 meeting has recommended to California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura that the winegrape grower assessment be lowered to $1.50 per thousand dollars of value for the 2007 harvest.
“After careful consideration and close examination of the wine industry’s needs, the Board members agreed that lowering the assessment level would allow us to responsibly fund critical research while also protecting against any emergencies that might arise,” said Board Chair Ben Drake.
The assessment is expected to raise approximately $3.3 million on a projected winegrape value of approximately $2.2 billion. That amount, when combined with federal and state funding, provides approximately $33 million annually to fund research and control the spread of the GWSS, a highly effective vector of Pierce’s disease, which is fatal to vineyards.
The grower assessment funds are primarily used to pay for PD-research efforts with more than $16 million has been spent to date funding over 90 research projects ranging from breeding parasitic wasps for combating GWSS to breeding PD-resistant winegrape vines.
The winegrape grower assessment was extended by an overwhelming vote in 2005 to remain in effect until 2011.
The Board also voted to allocate additional funds to address research needs identified by the newly formed Research Scientific Advisory Panel (RSAP), a group of scientists convened to review the PD/GWSS research efforts.
The PD/GWSS Board was established in July 2001 to support scientific research to find a solution for Pierce’s disease. An annual assessment paid by winegrape growers supports its research efforts. The PD/GWSS Board also advises the California Department of Food and Agriculture on a variety of other issues pertaining to Pierce’s disease and the glassy-winged sharpshooter.
The work of the Board is underlined by the fact that Pierce’s disease has no known cure and, left unchecked, could be devastating to the grape industry and several other California crops. A study released in 2006 by the Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers showed that the total annual economic impact of California’s winegrape industry is estimated at $51.8 billion.