Wyden Calls for Disaster Assistance for Winegrape Growers Amid Destructive Wildfire Season

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today asked Senate appropriators to provide additional disaster assistance for winegrape growers devastated by smoke during this year’s destructive wildfire season. 

In the 2019 disaster relief package, Congress provided $3 million through the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) for winegrowers whose grapes were damaged by wildfires in 2018 and 2019. Due to the fact that wildfires have burned millions of acres of land throughout the West and caused heavy layers of smoke in 2020, winegrape growers now require the same assistance.

“As Ranking Member Merkley knows firsthand, our home state’s wine industry has been hurt by the catastrophic wildfires, leaving many winegrape growers unable to sell their smoke-tainted product. Exposure to smoke particles can dramatically change the flavor of wine grapes, rendering them unusable in the winemaking process,” Wyden wrote in a letter to Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Chairman John Hoeven and Ranking Member Jeff Merkley. “I thank you both for your continued efforts and commitment to address the wildfires in Oregon and your past efforts to secure WHIP assistance for wine grapes damaged by wildfire smoke.”

A copy of the letter can be found here.

A web version of this release is here.