The Shutdown: A Giant Pain in the Bung Hole

January 31, 2019

I apologize if the title of this post sounds crass, but most of my readers will understand that this is not, as my two kids would describe it, "potty talk."  Bung hole is a legitimate industry term.

 

I'm pretty sure I'm shouting into the void here, but to whomever reads this that has any influence over the situation: please don't shut down the government again.  It's bad for business.  It's bad for the wine business.

 

 

When the government's shutdown, we suffer these ill effects:

 

  • We don't get our crush data on time.  This is infuriating.  It interferes with our planning, with our finalization of contracts, with our settlement of payments.  But most infuriating is that this isn't some federal subsidy of our industry that's getting cut off.  We, as an industry, pay the USDA to do this.  Their skills and mandate as a governmental agency mean that they are pretty much the only organization that can create a Crush Report as well as they do.  Our politicians often talk about running things like a business.  I don't know any solvent business that has ready and qualified employees and orders already paid for, waiting to be filled, yet closes up shop because management can't resolve issues unrelated to the product offering.

  • TTB closures prevent our wineries from bringing product to market.

  • The Risk Management Agency manages crop insurance programs, but can't do its work during a shutdown.

  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service closures affect our nurseries and puts a hold on certain crop protection programs.

  • The Agricultural Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture closures hinder budgeted research on wine grape growing.

  • Closing the Farm Service Agency cuts off the flow of certain funds, like loan programs, to our industry.

  • The Foreign Agricultural Service cannot gather foreign market data and represent our trade interests abroad during a shutdown.

  • The National Resources Conservation Service offers a variety of help with conservation projects and soil mapping that we rely on - it, too, is hobbled during shutdowns.

 

I know, I know, it sounds like First World Problems to complain about how a shutdown hurts the wine business.  But our industry is made of farmers, students, retirees, working moms and dads, veterans, etc., etc.  We pay the Federal government industry-specific fees, excise taxes, income tax, corporate income tax and estate taxes.  We expect to get something in return.  So, please, if anyone with influence on this issue is listening, keep the government open.

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