Importance of the proposed Research & Development Order for grapes produced in New York State
The Ground Work
In 2012, the NYWGF, NY Wine Grape Growers Association, and the Lake Erie Regional Grape Processors Funding Group jointly submitted a petition to NY’s Commissioner of Ag & Markets, Darrell Aubertine, requesting the establishment of a state-wide Research & Development Order (RDO) for all grapes produced within the state. The purpose of the RDO is “to provide for the collection of monies from all commercial producers of grapes in New York State for the purposes of improving grape production efficiency and fruit quality, and to contract with persons or organizations or agencies, including Cornell University’s College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, for such purposes … in order to maintain and expand the grape industry in New York State.”
In a Nutshell — the “Skinny” on the Research Market Order
Q & A Courtesy of Larry Perrine
Q: What is a NY Grape Research Order?
A: A legally established mechanism by which all NY grape growers self-assess monies in order to systematically fund Viticulture Research annually.
Q: If the NY Grape Research Market Order is passed by grower referendum, as a grower, do I have to pay money into the fund?
A: Yes, the self-assessment is legally mandatory.
Q: Can I opt out if I don’t want to pay?
A: No. The establishment of a NY Research Market Order is legally binding on all NY grape growers & is enforced by NYS Dept. of Ag & Markets.
Q: I already donate money to support viticulture research in NYS annually. Is this in addition to existing fund-raising efforts?
A: No. The intent is that it will replace the existing research funding pro-grams in Lake Erie & Long Island. It will make funding more orderly, efficient & comprehensive, as all growers will have to contribute.
Q: Do wineries pay into the Market Order?
A: If a winery grows grapes, it will self-assess on the grapes it grows. If a winery’s vineyard is a separate business entity, the vineyard business pays the self-assessment. A stand-alone winery with no vineyards does not pay the assessment.
Q How are the monies collected?
A: Grape Processors (either juice or wineries) who buy NY-grown grapes with-hold the assessed funds out of the purchase price, paying the grower the “net” amount per ton. The processor consolidates the “research funds” for all grapes they purchase (even from their own vineyard) & transmits funds to NYSDAM to be held in an account designated for eventual use by NY Grape Research Market Board of Directors.
Q: What is the assessment based on?
A: The assessment is based on a percentage of farm-gate value during a given vintage. It is not a per-ton assessment. The petition for the order has set a “maximum assessment rate” of 0.5%. The intent is to start the assessment at one-half the maximum rate or 0.25%. The higher rate allows for future decisions to increase the rate if it appears useful to the industry, with-out going through the process again.
Q: Is the Market Order Permanent?
A: No, It can be ended via a Referendum if deemed no longer desirable or necessary.
Q: How are funds allocated?
A: Each year the Board will initiate Request for Proposals for pertinent re-search projects. It is expected the bulk of those will come from Cornell University, either from straight research or applied research and extension pro-grams through out the state. Proposals will be evaluated and selected by the Board for financial support.
Q: Doesn’t Cornell already have enough money for Viticulture Research?
A: No. Cornell & all state & county-based Cooperative Ext. programs have undergone severe government funding cuts over the past 5 years. Additional private sector funds are needed for our industry’s research needs.
Q: Can the money be used for promotion of NY grapes & wine?
A: No. It can only be used to support viticulture research projects.
Q: Will the Market Order Board by dominated by Concord & Riesling growers and research follow suit?
A: No. Members will represent all sectors & major grape growing regions. While the bulk of money came from Lake Erie in the past, many Vitis Vinif-era projects were supported. The board is expected to coordinate research investments for all grapes in an equitable manner.
Q: Do other agricultural sectors have Research Market Orders?
A: Yes. The apple industry is a good example, but there are several others as well.
In conclusion, our first attempt at a research order failed by six votes. The NYS Apple industry has been helped immensely by their research and marketing order. In fact they have increased the funding several times!