Update to COVID-19 Pandemic

Dear Friends,

I would like to briefly update you on our current activities during this challenging time. As you know, we are now confronted with a variety of issues that will have serious consequences to our businesses for the foreseeable future. I will not pretend that we have broad answers or solutions, but we are moving swiftly to make sure our industry has a seat at the table as the Federal Government considers various actions to ease economic burdens related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The next few weeks will offer a short window through which tariff relief could come through congress. In this regard, Monday I called an emergency board meeting, at which we brought on Angela Kouters to beef up our ability to lobby congress. Angela has served as the Chief of Staff for various members of congress, and was the Director of Legislative Affairs for Homeland Security and the Office of Personnel Management. She has gone through emergency legislative actions before, and her expertise and hill contacts will greatly strengthen our capacity to work on your behalf under these new circumstances.

In the coming days, we will press every lever possible to lobby the government both to end the current tariffs on wine, as well as to refund the tariffs that have been paid. If broader economic support makes sense, we may add our voices if doing so does not weaken our primary focus of tariff relief. We have spoken with both the National Restaurant Association (NRA), and the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Association (WSWA), and they will lend their support to our cause.

We have had recent conversations with both USTR and Treasury, communicating the wave of damage coming to our industry, and how the tariffs have put many businesses in a poor position to weather the storm. Over the next two weeks, we will significantly ramp up the pressure on both. We will make it clear how critical their decisions will be to the very viability of a huge swath of American businesses. Right now, part of the government’s job is to inject liquidity into American businesses who will be see economic harm from the policies put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19. Putting a pause on the tariffs during this crisis is common sense, and refunding the tariffs would be a clean, efficient way to give US businesses much needed capital.

This week I may have requests of you. Grassroots lobbying efforts will be important to make sure we are heard. While the USTR public comment portal for the Airbus matter is closed, I am working to find a reasonable way for US wine businesses to communicate their concerns and needs to USTR directly. We will be asking for your support in writing letters, both to USTR and Treasury, as well as to important members of congress. I will keep you up to date with the specifics in regard to these letters over the next few days. 

Without doubt, we are stronger together. The clouds may be approaching, but we will put our heads down and keep fighting until we’re on the other side. 

My very best wishes to you and yours.

Best regards

Ben Aneff

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