The ballots are in and the votes counted on whether or not to continue the Pierce's disease (PD) assessment paid by California wine grape growers.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Marketing Branch, the referendum passed by 84 percent in favor of continuing the assessment to fund research for another five years.

"California's wine grape growers have shown their continuing commitment to fighting PD, which has the potential of devastating California's $61.5 billion a year wine and grape industry," said A.G. Kawamura, secretary of the California Department of Food (CDFA).

"The assessment has played a vital role in moving the industry to a more predictable future where PD is no longer a threat,” Kawamura said. “And with the new expanded scope, assessment dollars can now be directed towards other pests and diseases that threaten the industry as well."

The CDFA sent the referendum ballots out in late March to about 6,300 wine grape-growing entities in California.

Approximately 45 percent of the eligible growers cast ballots; a 40 percent response was required.

Passage required either a yes vote by 65 percent or more of those voting provided they represent the majority of the assessment that was paid in 2009 by all who voted; or a yes vote by a majority of those voting provided they represent 65 percent or more of the assessment that was paid in 2009 by all who voted.

For more information, visit www.pdgwss.net.