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Industry Focus

By Harold Smith (Lake Erie Concord grower), John Martini (Finger Lakes vineyard and winery owner), Gerry Barnhard (startup vineyard and winery in the Upper Hudson Valley/Champlain region), and Larry Perrine (Long Island vineyard and winery)


For additional information please visit:
Grape Research and Development Petition
Grape Research and Development Proposed Regulations



Here are the voices of four growers from different regions of New York State, explaining how the research order will work, and the benefits they see coming to their region and farm.

Harold Smith is a 4th generation Concord grower in the Lake Erie region, who farms 90 acres in Brocton, NY, and markets grapes through the National Grape Cooperative.  He is a member of the Board, and past Chairman of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation.

John Martini 

Gerry Barnhard

Larry Perrine

1. Why does the NY grape industry need a Research and Development order? 

Harold:  The grape industry in New York State, with all of its synergies, is over a five-billion dollar per year business, and research in viticulture and enology is vital to the future of its grape, grape juice and wine industry.  

2. How do you see a R&D order benefiting growers? 

Harold:  Many individuals in and outside agriculture feel that R&D is only for studying pesticides.  But it is far more than that.  Mechanization is now big in agriculture.  With the increase in labor costs farmers are going to have to reduce these inputs, do more with machinery and hopefully arrive at a desired result.

3. Why do we need more industry funding of research?  

Harold:  Most research takes many years to attain the desired results, and a steady, reliable source of funding is necessary for any successful research program.  For many years, sources for these funds were plentiful and with matching dollars available from Federal, State, cooperate and private entities, it was possible to double, triple or quadruple funding for various research projects.  But in 2008 that all went away.

4. Why do you feel it’s important to support research? 

Harold:  We all benefit from research.  And we are going to have to stay out in front of regulations so that we can deliver a quality, palatable product.

5.  What are the most pressing production issues in your region? 

Harold:  Labor, price per ton, lack of reputable processors.

6. How has research benefited your own farm? 

Harold:  Recently on our farm we have had a resurgence of grape root worm.  The local vineyard lab in Portland has conducting trials on timing of sprays, different control materials and sharing of results of these trials.  Also, some old weeds have started to show up in some vineyards.  The lab has run some trials on new materials to see if they can control these new-old pests.

7. Why should other NY growers support this? 

Harold:  Presently the largest amount of support comes from concord growers.  This proposed system is fairer.  It treats all growers across the state equally.

8. How do you see a R&D order benefiting industry long-term? 

Harold:  Research is vital to the future of the New York grape industry, which is vital to the agricultural economy of New York state.  The proposed Grape Research and Development Order is not a tax; it is an investment - a small investment for every grower that will yield an enormous return.

Tim Martinson is a senior extension associate, Section of Horticulture, based at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY.  Alex Koeberle ’13 is a viticulture research and extension assistant, Section of Horticulture, based at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY.