Increasing numbers of growers are reporting difficulty in getting paid for their grapes, a result of the trickle effect that the down economy has had on the farm. To help growers improve their chances of payment, a series of “Getting Paid” seminars is planned in ­Washington State.

The first “Getting Paid” seminar was held in November, but two identical sessions are scheduled in the next two months: February 8 in Kennewick and March 10 in Yakima. The seminars, funded through a cooperative partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency and the Washington Wine Industry Foundation, were designed to provide growers with tools and strategies to offset the financial and legal risks associated with grape sales.

Growers will leave the sessions with handout material covering grower contracts, contract templates, step-by-step instructions for filing processor liens, better understanding of a grower’s legal rights and responsibilities to utilize processor liens, and how to use the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act for additional protection. Samples of language to use in letters from lawyers, sellers, and even language on invoicing, are also provided.

The seminars are led by attorney Jesse Lyon of Davis Wright Tremaine in Portland, Oregon. Lyon grew up a farm boy in eastern Washington before studying agricultural economics at Washington State University and Purdue University. He worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a year before receiving his law degree.

For more information about the upcoming seminars, click on the “Events” button of the Washington Wine Foundation’s Web site at www.washingtonwine

Key provisions of a grape sale contracts

•    Definition of product and expectations
•    Payment terms—pricing, timing, and ­adjustments
•    Penalties and interest for late payment
•    Attorney’s fees language (allows the prevailing party to recover fees if there is a dispute or collection)
•    Cross default or early termination—allows seller to terminate remaining grape sales if there is a default on payment
•    Liens and security interests—Uniform ­Commercial Code security interest, statutory agricultural liens (state), PACA (federal)
•    Delivery receipts and invoices—Interest and attorney’s fees language can be printed at ­bottom of invoices
•    Performance standards/defining good cause language