SAF Saves Annual Floriculture Report
When budget cuts threatened to eliminate an important resource for growers, the organization made some urgent calls to Capitol Hill.
December 27, 2011
Thanks to the Society of American Florists' (SAF) efforts, the floriculture industry can still rely on the droves of data in a yearly Agriculture Department report that businesses use to make key decisions.
USDA announced December 9 that it would reinstate the annual Floriculture Crops Summary, along with several others that had been slated for elimination because of budget cuts. The agency's decision came after Congress directed the National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) to reconsider ending the surveys in mid-November.
The annual floriculture report is comprised of a survey featuring more than 10,000 commercial operations in 15 states. Growers consider the floriculture report a benchmark of industry health and an important tool, using it to help set prices, identify trends and decide what and how much to plant.
Additionally, it covers the number of producers, peak hired workers and total production area for growers with $10,000 or more in sales. For growers with $100,000 or more in sales, the report includes quantities sold, percent of sales at wholesale, wholesale prices and wholesale value of sales for cut flowers, potted flowering plants, foliage and annual bedding/garden plants.
Upon learning that the report would be cut, SAF went to work immediately, informing members of the House Appropriations Committee about the specific ways the crop report was used in the industry. SAF also highlighted how the report benefits the industry by providing important data on sales and production.
"SAF's successful effort to reverse NASS's decision is a huge victory for the industry," said David Mitchell, chairman of the SAF Government Relations Committee.
Mitchell, a retail florist who runs Mitchell's Flowers in Orland Park, Ill., said the triumph illustrates the power of building relationships on Capitol Hill. "SAF is on the Hill every day fighting for SAF members and lobbying on behalf of the entire floral industry," he said. "Reinstating this report shows the value of what SAF does for all of us in Washington, D.C."
Marvin Miller, Ph.D., market research manager for Ball Horticultural Co. in West Chicago, Ill., was elated over saving the floriculture report.
"I think this result is testament to the continued relationships SAF has with its members and with USDA and Congress," said Miller, who serves on SAF's Government Relations Committee and an Industry Statistics Task Force that has met with NASS for more than 25 years. "When we needed help to get this survey reinstated, SAF knew who would care and who to call, and we knew we would have a receptive ear at USDA since we've maintained such a long working relationship there."