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Sonoma Valley vintner Steve Ledson offers temporary housing for Kincade fire victims

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Ledson offers housing for fire victims

Vintner Steve Ledson has offered housing for those displaced by the Kincade fire at his various properties in the Sonoma Valley.

His family has been farming in Sonoma County since 1868 and his Kenwood winery makes more than 70 different varietals. The housing includes apartments, single-family homes, furnished homes and estates.

“My family has been building and farming in Sonoma County for decades. I have been raised knowing that Sonoma helps its own. There is nothing worse than being displaced during natural events or tragedies like this fire,” Ledson said. “It breaks my heart to see this devastation and we want to do what we can to help others in Sonoma County.”

Evacuees should call 707-537-3810 for more information.

Tax waivers may be offered for wineries

The federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has said it may waive late tax filing, payment or deposit penalties for wineries affected by the Kincade fire.

The bureau said that a natural disaster could affect a winery’s ability to file tax returns and pay or deposit federal excise taxes that are administered by the agency.

To qualify for a waiver, the winery has to contact the agency’s National Revenue Center and spell out how its inability to timely file, pay, or deposit was because of the fire and not due to willful neglect. In making the determination, the agency said it would consider the effects of the natural disaster.

Farmworker overhaul bill introduced

Two lawmakers have introduced legislation in Congress that would revamp federal law regarding farmworkers, including the H2-A program, which allows wineries to hire foreign guest workers for vineyard jobs lasting up to 10 months.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, and Dan Newhouse, R-Washington, would establish a process of earned legal residency for farmworkers in the United Statues that would include 5-year renewable agriculture visas and paying $1,000 fine.

The H2-A program would be streamlined for employers and would offer better pay for workers, as well as offering them a path for green cards. The bill also would establish a mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system for all agricultural employment.

“The men and women who work America’s farms feed the nation. But, farmworkers across the country are living and working with uncertainty and fear, contributing to the destabilization of farms across the nation,” Lofgren said. “Our bill offers stability for American farms by providing a path to legal status for farmworkers.”

Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit items to bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com.

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