Thompson Applauds New Crop Insurance Offering for Winegrowers Facing Smoke Exposure

Press Release


Washington – Today, Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-04) applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Risk Management Agency’s (RMA) recent announcement that it will launch a pilot crop insurance program next year to help protect grape growers facing smoke damage to their crops.

“Winegrapes are essential to California’s economy. Yet growers in our state have been struggling to recover after smoke exposure damages their winegrapes,” said Thompson. “I’ve long advocated for strengthening crop insurance for winegrowers to better capture the risks associated with growing in smoke- and wildfire-prone regions. RMA’s announcement is an essential step toward that goal.”

"As wildfires continue to pose a significant threat to our industry and communities, we are incredibly grateful for the Risk Management Agency's work in crafting and introducing a new crop insurance endorsement to better protect California winegrape growers against the devastating impacts of wildfire smoke. The California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) applauds the support of Congressman Thompson and Senator Padilla for their advocacy in calling for a solution to address this critical need. This new policy is a significant step forward in protecting the livelihoods of growers and the industry as a whole," said Natalie Collins, President of California Association of Winegrape Growers. 

“Today’s announcement that the department of agriculture will begin offering smoke insurance policies is a huge win for the Napa Valley wine Industry,” said Rex Stults, Vice President of Industry Relations for the Napa Valley Vintners on Thursday. “After the devastating wildfires suffered by our region, this became a top federal priority for NVV, and we are so grateful to the USDA and Congressman Thompson for hearing our concerns and putting in place the tools for folks in the wine community to adapt to these risks.”

Winegrapes exposed to smoke from wildfires can introduce compounds into the winemaking process that cause smoky, ash-like flavors and result in wines unfit for commercial sale. These off-aromas and flavors become more pronounced over time as wine ages. In 2020 alone, industry sources estimate between 165,000 and 325,000 tons of California winegrapes were lost due to actual or perceived smoke damage, and financial estimate place losses at over $600 million.

Last June, Reps. Thompson and Dan Newhouse (WA-04) and Sens. Alex Padilla(D-CA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation for winegrape crop loss coverage. The bill requires the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) to carry out research and implement a crop insurance product that covers losses due to smoke exposure.

RMA’s Fire Insurance Protection – Smoke Index (FIP-SI) program announced today is an index-based endorsement to the Actual Production History (APH) Grape policy that provides additional protection against smoke damage and covers the liability between the APH policy’s coverage level and 95 percent of the crop price.

The program will launch for the 2025 crop year.