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Government and Politics

Change in federal spending bill will protect California wineries from international tariff war

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Alta Colina, Paso Robles - 2015
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A massive spending bill working its way through Congress currently now has wording to protect Central Coast wineries from an international trade dispute. 

The move comes just days before retaliatory tariffs could hit the local wine industry.

A requirement to inform U.S. consumers as to where a number of their agricultural products originated hasn't sat well with leaders in Mexico and Canada for years. Specifically, they're upset over the requirement on shipments of beef and pork, which they argue violates World Trade Organization commitments.

In retaliation, the two countries are threatening to implement tariffs against big U.S. exports, including wine. Canada and Mexico import a billion dollars worth of U.S. wine each year, 90 percent of which comes from California.

Charles Jefferson represents the California-based Wine Institute in Washington D.C. and specializes in U.S. policy. He said protecting our local wine industry was his main concern with this bill. 

"While we don't necessarily have a position on the policy of country of origin labeling we had no choice really but to get engaged and try and resolve this issue to avoid this retaliation," said Jefferson.

Jefferson says he expects the Omnibus Spending Plan to be passed within the next few days. Wine tariffs set to go into effect next week will be dropped if the plan is passed with this wording to repeal country of origin labeling.