While the New York State Legislature's new budget will cause funding cuts to wine and grape programs, the final budget was not as dire as industry members expected.
—Last week, for the first time in a number of years, and only the third time in the past 27, the New York State legislature passed the state’s annual budget before the deadline. For the New York grape and wine industry, while there were significant cuts, the outcome could have been much worse.
The New York Wine and Grape Foundation (NYWGF) will be funded at $713,000, the same level as last year. As in the past, these funds must be matched by the private sector. According to foundation president Jim Trezise, this is a survival budget, but it will continue core programs. Funds will remain available both for research and marketing and promotional programs that support the state’s wine trails and subsidies for entry fees that enable wineries to enter competitions.
“We’ve taken a 75% reduction from what we had two years ago, so obviously a lot of our research and promotion projects have been suspended for now,” Trezise told Wines & Vines. “Still, we’re very grateful that the legislature has restored what they could during these very difficult times, and we hope additional funding will be available next year and beyond.”
Cuts to research, education
Funding for Cornell University
and other institutions in the State University of New York (SUNY) system is being cut by 10%. This brings a total cut in funding over the past three years to 25%. On a more positive note, the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, which had been scheduled for termination March 31, has had last year’s state support of $500,000 restored. Another $200,000 for the IPM community program was appropriated. That part of the program was not funded last year.
A major financial loss for the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station at Geneva was the elimination of funds from the Viticulture Consortium. The $700,000 per year for Eastern viticulture research, much of which went to Cornell University, was federal money that came through an earmark. It has been totally eliminated from the federal budget.
Needless to say, grape research has also suffered a blow. The station has seen the money for its seed testing laboratory program cut to $128,000 from last year’s $200,000. Its $500,000 equipment fund, zeroed out last year, has not been renewed. This fund had provided money for research equipment, as well as for the station’s farms, and had also included start-up funding for new faculty members.
Dr. Thomas Burr, the station’s director, told Wines & Vines
that he is not complaining about these challenges. “We’ve been very fortunate in recent years to have excellent faculty members who are dedicated to keep our programs going in a highly competitive environment. It is gratifying to have small endowments and grants continue to come our way, and hopefully the state’s financial situation will soon recover.”