What Obama’s Re-Election Means To Greenhouse Operations

Barack Obama

They say elections have consequences, and this year’s has especially big consequences for the greenhouse and nursery industry. Of course, President Obama won both the Electoral College and popular vote, capturing pretty much all the states that were considered up for grabs. In the U.S. Senate, Democrats had to defend twice as many seats as Republicans, and many of them were in the conservative Midwest and Plains states. But Republicans’ high hopes of gaining control of the upper chamber were dashed. Democrats are expected to have a net gain of two seats, presuming that independent candidate Angus King of Maine caucuses with the majority. Republicans held the House. They lost about seven seats but maintain a comfortable margin of control.

Despite a record $6 billion spent on political advertising, little has changed. Americans seem inclined by instinct toward divided government, and that’s the reality for at least the next few years. Successful legislative proposals will have to be bipartisan to clear Congress and be signed by the President. This is especially true in the Senate, where it still takes 60 votes to overcome procedural hurdles. Accordingly, the outlook is mixed on key issues for the greenhouse and nursery industry.

Over The Fiscal Cliff Or Not?

First up for Congress is the fiscal cliff, the combination of automatic tax increases and spending cuts that will hit with the new year. Negotiations are ongoing. There are three possible outcomes:  a full agreement that avoids the cliff and brings meaningful deficit reduction; a short-term deal that may or may not bring deficit reduction; or, going over the fiscal cliff and facing the recession it is forecast to trigger.

Swirling around in the fiscal cliff debate is the prospect of tax reform. Whether in the context of corporate or individual taxes, many are calling for a reduction in rates and an elimination or reduction in exemptions and deductions. Such proposals need close monitoring. In the business context, many deductions, credits and exemptions were designed to benefit small business. So a reduction in top corporate tax rates paired with elimination of credits or exemptions could disproportionately impact small businesses. One close-to-home example:  the “cash accounting” rules frequently followed by growing operations could be targeted for elimination.

Obamacare Looms Large

For employers hoping for repeal of Obamacare, the realization is sinking in that the law is likely here to stay. Health and Human Services and other federal agencies are making steady progress on rules and guidance to implement the law. Prudent employers want to plan, but planning is tough until we know how insurance products will be priced.

The prevalence of seasonal employment in our industry is another challenging variable. Many experienced and vital horticultural workers are foreign-born and falsely documented. Presumably they will count toward an employer’s determination of total employees relating to the employer mandate to provide coverage or pay a penalty. But they will not be able to obtain insurance in the exchanges, and the mandated coverage could create a paper trail back to their employer without the privacy protections that exist with respect to Social Security information, for instance. In our industry, immigration reform is a necessary precursor for workable health care reform.

The Impact Of Immigration Issues

Immigration reform is one issue where expectations of progress are rising in the election aftermath. Why? This past election cycle was the first in which Latinos as a voting bloc may have made the difference in several statewide races, as well as the presidential contest in states like Florida, Colorado and Nevada. Mitt Romney performed terribly among Latino voters, receiving less than 30 percent of their votes. Most of this poor performance has been attributed to his hard-right turn on immigration policy during the primary, something from which he never recovered.

Most Republicans now recognize the need to evolve their messaging on immigration reform and to put the issue in the rear view mirror. Many feel that the party can appeal to Latinos on other issues. Ronald Reagan once referred to Hispanics as, “Republicans who just don’t know it yet.”  To paraphrase Senator Marco Rubio, however, it’s hard to appeal to someone on jobs or education when they think you are going to deport their grandmother. Thought leaders in the Republican Party are beginning to reframe immigration policy in economic terms, something we have long supported.

For Democrats, pressure is high to deliver on promises made. With some elements of the Democratic base now defining immigration reform as “citizenship for 11 million,” it may not be easy for party leaders to come to a reasonable middle ground.

American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) and the coalition we co-chair, known as the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform, are partners in an ongoing effort to reunify the agricultural community behind a reasonable solution for farm, nursery and greenhouse workers. Such a solution could move as part of a broader bill or as an early building block toward a modernized immigration policy. Time is of the essence, as work on the issue in Congress could begin shortly after the inauguration.

Flexibility will be the watchword. While an immigration effort next year looks likely, the path will be difficult. The so-called perfect solution from an employer perspective will not clear Congress nor be signed into law by the president. Negotiation will be tricky and take finesse, and a difficult compromise will be inevitable.

A Stronger, More Unified Industry

The nursery, greenhouse, landscape and garden retail industry has long been very fragmented. Fragmentation has hindered effective federal advocacy and strong grassroots involvement in political affairs. That’s a problem, since the business of government affects every business. The expected consolidation of OFA and ANLA and the launch of a new, premier horticultural industry association should mean positive things for the associations’ efforts to monitor and influence federal legislation and regulation. It will advance our industry’s ability to think and act together, when needed, and to speak with one voice. With challenges like health care and opportunities like immigration reform on the horizon, that’s a good thing.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “What Obama’s Re-Election Means To Greenhouse Operations

  1. Falsely documented? Okay let's accept the new wording for illegal immigrant. I am not one but if I were how should I feel about moving from a category of' lawbreaker' to 'oops somebody made a mistake'? Well, by changing wording am I not going to be deported? By changing the words will the coyotes stop charging me bandito fees for my crossing the border? Can I just show my new 'Oops ID" and drive across the border? Can my child now go to college on Student loans with the new 'Oops ID'? Can I bring my niece and nephew into the U.S. falsely documented also? Will I be forced to pay Federal Income tax? Hey maybe I don't trust the U.S. government, can I keep my Illegal Immigrant status?

  2. Very well stated, Craig. All of these issues need to be synchronized for our industry to move forward to a long term workable solution. And Jeff, in your comment you are looking at it from the wrong side of the issue. "Falsely documented" does move the category of "lawbreaker" to "oops, someone made a mistake", but it is the employer that is moving and not the illegal immigrant. It is illegal to hire someone without proper documentation and established right to work. If I hire an illegal immigrant without documentation, I expose myself to legal liability when it is discovered, and the worker gets deported. If I hire that same person with false documentation, I am covered but the worker still gets deported. As long as our industry needs, or feels it needs, illegal immigrants to fill the jobs that we offer we can't then complain about those folks who cross the borders to take those jobs.

More From State of the Industry...
PP&L CAST 2015 intros

April 22, 2015

6 Breeding Companies Serve Up New Varieties At Pacific Plug & Liner

Pacific Plug & Liner’s theme this year, Labyrinth, a conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants, was perfectly topped off (pun intended) with fascinators for the women and newsboy caps for the men. The PP&L team dressed their part to act out the gothic “conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants.” Truly, the displays looked like they practically popped out of a catalog, and the costumes were a nice touch. Retailers take heed, the fully merchandised displays at Pacific Plug & Liner are worthy of emulating. We’ll let the pictures tell the story of all the fabulous variety introductions presented at  Pacific Plug & Liner’s 2015 California Spring Trials, where Cultivaris, Cohen Nurseries, Histil Nurseries, Jaldety Nurseries, Southern Living/Sunset Collection and Pacific Plug & Liner all highlighted their 2016 introductions.  

Read More
Speedling 2015 CAST intros

April 22, 2015

Speedling Inc. Presents New Varieties From ABZ Seeds, Hem Genetics, Thompson & Morgan, Vista Farms & PSI

You name it, we saw it at Speedling's California Spring Trials location in San Juan Bautista, where five companies showed off their new introductions for 2016.

Read More
PittMoss on Shark Tank

April 22, 2015

PittMoss Wins On Shark Tank

Mont Handley, president and CEO of PittMoss, appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank on April 17 to try to get the “sharks” to invest in his peat moss alternative. Three investors from the TV show contributed $600,000 to PittMoss for a 35 percent stake in the company. Check out this clip from ABC’s website in which Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec discuss getting on board with the product. PittMoss is an alternative to sphagnum peat moss, made up of a mix of proprietary additives and recycled paper rescued from landfill space. Handley founded the Pittsburgh-based company in 1994. What started as a small experiment grew into a full-fledged business with the help of funding provided by an EPA SBIR grant and Pittsburgh’s Idea Foundry. Today, PittMoss is available to commercial greenhouses and nurseries from Michigan to Maine to North Carolina, with plans to grow. To learn more, visit PittMoss’ website, or check it […]

Read More
Latest Stories
HRI logo

April 8, 2015

Horticultural Research Institute Accepting Scholarship …

The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) is offering seven scholarships for the 2015-2016 school year, totaling $20,000. Applications will be accepted through May 31.

Read More
protecting bees and pollinators video

March 31, 2015

New Video On Protecting Bees And Pollinators Educates H…

A new educational video that provides information on the horticultural industry’s essential role in bee and pollinator stewardship is one result of industry collaboration by the Horticultural Research Institute, AmericanHort, Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment. “Protecting Bees & Pollinators: What Horticulture Needs to Know,” narrates the current state of bee and pollinator health, provides information on factors that impact pollinators and the environment and underscores the beneficial role horticulture plays in providing healthy pollinator ecosystems.

Read More

March 25, 2015

NASS Reports U.S. Honey Production Was Up By 19 Percent…

Honey production in 2014 from producers with five or more colonies totaled 178 million pounds, up 19 percent from 2013, according to a March 20 report from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Read More
cultivate'15 logo

March 4, 2015

Cultivate’15: AmericanHort Announces What’s…

In an industry that has seen major changes occurring at a fast pace, many industry professionals leave Cultivate with their heads spinning and no clear idea of how to regroup and strategize. Cultivate’15 is “Changing the Game.” As this year’s focus, Changing the Game will call your attention to the ways in which our industry has changed and your opportunities to compete successfully.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

February 2, 2015

Download Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 State Of The In…

The Greenhouse Grower 2015 State Of The Industry Whitepaper includes all the results of the survey, including comparisons on 2014 sales to past years, details on how 2015 production volume and prices will compare to 2014, crops that growers will increase and decrease production on, where growers stand on using neonicotinoids on crops, how many growers will pursue growing medical marijuana and more.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Benchmarks: Let’s Change Our Story

It's a new year. Time for our industry to change how consumers perceive plants by creating a new reality where plants are valued for more than their physical beauty.

Read More

January 21, 2015

AFE Wins Platinum MarCom Award For “Murder, Sex a…

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) took home its fourth award for the animated awareness video "Murder, Sex and Greed." The organization also recently announced that there are two new members on its board of trustees.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 19, 2015

2015 State Of The Industry: Current Green Industry Tren…

Demand for green industry products and services is forecasted to increase in coming years as the housing market rebounds.

Read More

January 14, 2015

Terra Nigra Joins DNA Green Group

DNA Green Group will be expanding its range of cut flowers by incorporating Terra Nigra, a company specializing in breeding and propagation of gerberas and roses.

Read More

January 14, 2015

Florensis Receives Horticultural Entrepreneur Award

During the January 7, 2015 award ceremony in the Keukenhof, in Lisse, Netherlands, Florensis received the Horticultural Entrepreneur Award. Florensis was one of four nominated companies, which also included Arcadia BV, Artemis and Martens Asperges.

Read More

January 9, 2015

AmericanHort Celebrates Its First Birthday

AmericanHort was formally launched one year ago on January 1, 2014, and the association is celebrating numerous successes of the first year.

Read More
Carol Miller

January 7, 2015

We’re All In This Together

Growers and retailers have a common goal — to serve customers better. In this new column, Greenhouse Grower will take a look at ways growers and retailers can work together to take advantage of profit opportunities and better meet customer needs.

Read More

January 7, 2015

Industry Speaks Out Against “Waters Of The U.S.” Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule change to the Clean Water Act, known as “waters of the U.S.,” has the potential to disrupt normal business practices for growers across the country.

Read More

January 7, 2015

Students Tackle Real-Life Challenges At National FFA Fl…

Top prize winners put skills learned in the classroom to the test at the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Floriculture Career Development Event.

Read More
Lesley Judd

January 7, 2015

2014 Meister Scholarship Awarded To Ph.D Student

The Richard T. Meister Scholarship was awarded to Lesley Judd, a graduate student with a passion for horticulture and a desire to pass her knowledge along through teaching.

Read More

January 6, 2015

39th Annual Today’s Horticulture Symposium Will Be Febr…

The Professional Gardener Alumni Association (PGAA) will hold the 39th Annual Today’s Horticulture Symposium program will be on February 6, 2015 from 8 a.m. or 4 p.m. in the Ballroom at Longwood Gardens, and will feature an array of engaging speakers.

Read More
Shawn McBurney

January 6, 2015

Society Of American Florists Hires New Lobbyist

Shawn McBurney joined the Society of American Florists' (SAF) staff starting January 5 as the new senior director of government relations.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 5, 2015

Growers Are Optimistic For A Strong Year In 2015

Greenhouse Grower’s State Of The Industry survey reveals that growers are being cautious about the inputs they use, and they’re worried about input costs and regulation, but enthusiastic about the rebounding economy.

Read More