Economic meltdown and the future of New York wine
The current economic crisis has many of us cutting back on our expenses. State and local governments are also running short of cash and looking for ways to trim their budgets. So-called non-essential spending is going to be hit the hardest, and wine drinkers need to be prepared for the effect this will have on our favorite beverage.
The Times Union reported Wednesday that New York has removed support for New York Wine and Grape Foundation from its proposed budget. The New York Wine and Grape Foundation is a non-profit, public-private foundation started to “centralize and coordinate the promotion and research programs” associated with grape growing and wine production. Since its inception, the foundation has guided the New York wine industry as it adopted modern production techniques and European grape varietals. The Foundation also helped the individual wineries market their wine and the results are impressive. Today the New York grape/wine industry generates about $3.4 billion dollars per year.
Tough economic times call for tough decisions, but we must also keep an eye toward the future. The federal government is injecting billions of dollars into the economy to prevent a crash, but throwing tax dollars at the problem will only get us so far. Eventually the economy must generate enough new jobs, services, and revenue to pay its own way. Organizations such as the New York Wine and Grape Foundation help create new jobs, new wealth, and tax revenue. Removing all state support from this foundation will only serve to delay the time required to repair the overall economy of New York State.
Most states that produce wine have an organization similar to the one in New York, and I imagine many of them will face serious budget cuts. Eliminating the funding for these organizations seems like a no-brainer on the surface. Though wine is a luxury, that misses the point. What we need are state budgets that will help eliminate the current crisis and promote future growth. Forcing organizations like the New York Wine and Grape Foundation to tighten up their belts and get by with less is absolutely essential, but completely eliminating funding is a bad idea.
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