Shutdown Affecting Wine Imports
COLAs and new winery permits are put on hold
As a member of the customs brokers association board (CBFANC), Kammer, who provides import and export services for wine and winery products including production equipment, says he has received many inquiries about how the government shutdown will affect shipments.
In general, he says that an estimated 800,000 of the 2 million U.S. federal government employees have been furloughed due to the government shutdown. “You can’t even import wine in bond. That’s not possible without label approval,” Kammer said. “While crucial government services and benefits will continue without interruption, the trade and transportation industry can expect delays—some more drastic than others.”
Who is working?
Revenue-collecting and revenue-generating agencies are still at work. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, the ports and airports are open for business. Front-line U.S. customs and agriculture officers are considered essential personnel and aren't furloughed.
Import specialists, entry specialists and Fines, Penalties & Forfeiture (FP&F) seizure operations all are in full force. Hours of service at all ports are normal at this time, which includes overtime.
Who is not?
The FDA has suspended much of its operations, though FDA District Operations Offices remain open with limited resources to continue to perform critical functions, which include entry review, field examinations, sample collections, compliance, exports, destructions, consumer complaints and emergency response.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has turned off its entire website in response to the government shutdown, leaving farmers, reporters and others with no way to access any of the agency’s information (such as the California Grape Crush Report) online.
COLA and winery approval standstill
Of most interest to the wine business, the TTB is not processing label approvals, and samples can’t be admitted without approval. “This has really messed up some people,” Kammer said. “In the past, the TTB would process emergency labels twice a week. That’s not happening now.”
New wineries also are not being approved, because the TTB must sign off on all applications.