Courting A New Congress

A new Congress could bring new opportunities to work toward bipartisan solutions. That’s the thinking anyway, at least on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform. Many say 2007 is the year to get things done because 2008 will be too much of a circus with the looming presidential election.

Seizing this opportunity, the Society of American Florists (SAF) mobilized more than 100 growers, retailers, wholesale florists and allied industry members to visit about 150 congressional offices March 13 in Washington, D.C., during SAF’s 27th Annual Congressional Action Days.

The two issues SAF zeroed in on this year were comprehensive immigration reform, including the AgJOBS bill, and increasing USDA funding for the Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative from $6.25 million to $8.5 million.

Provisions in AgJOBS include a workable guest worker program, enforcement at the borders, and a way to allow the large number of undocumented workers already in the United States to earn the right to transition to documented status. As we went to press, bipartisan bills were being debated in the House and Senate.

The research initiative is a long-term effort with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. Objectives include:

• Contributing to the U.S. agricultural economy and increasing U.S. competitiveness internationally through improved nursery and floral products and production.

• Targeting imported pests and diseases.

• Protecting the environment.

• Enhancing environmental remediation and cleanup efforts.

• Strengthening U.S. rural and suburban economies.

• Maintaining biodiversity through germplasm preservation.

• Enhancing Americans’ quality of life with plants and flowers.

Go Get ‘Em!

Before hitting the Hill, members were trained by a professional lobbyist the day before. During the two-hour session, “How To Make Issues Hit Home With Lawmakers,” Brad Fitch shared insider tips on the best way to communicate with members of Congress and their staffs, and had delegations practice their pitches. The day was rounded out by high-profile celebrity speakers. Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report, shared his perspective on the current political climate at the kick-off breakfast.

John Kasich, former Ohio Congressman and host of FOX News Channel’s “From The Heartland With John Kasich,” spoke at the special dinner meeting for contributors to SAF’s political action committee. Key senators also addressed the group. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) shared his knowledge about health care and the principles of his Healthy Americans Act, which would help to reform small business health care. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) has been a champion of the AgJOBS bill and discussed immigration reform. 

From The Growers

Martin Meskers of Oregon Flowers visited with Sen. Wyden. This was his eighth time traveling all the way from Oregon to Congressional Action Days. “I find it’s important to tell our story,” he says. Our representatives need to hear from us in a real-life situation and what’s going on. I feel I can make a difference. Our senator spoke at the breakfast. Some issues we’re not always on the same page on but he always listens.”

Justin Marotta of Possum Run Greenhouse in Ohio serves on SAF’s board and government relations committee. The research initiative has been a key issue for him because he has been involved with the Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center at The Ohio State University, a beneficiary of these funds.

Reflecting on his past participation on the Hill, he says, “I started coming here when we were carrying bunches of flowers and that was lots of fun,” Marotta says. “I’ve always been a firm believer that people can make a difference. This is an opportunity to do that. Our representatives have always been good and met with us in person.”

California Cut Flower Commission Chair Wilja Happé of Brand Flowers, our cover story subject last month, was glad to be back after eight years. “SAF is doing a fantastic job,” she says. “It’s one thing to grow flowers but it is also important to stay in touch with those who make the laws for you. The issue of immigration reform is very close to our hearts in California.”

SAF’s 2008 Congressional Action Days is scheduled for March 17 and 18. For more information, visit www.safnow.org.

Leave a Reply

Latest Stories
Laura Drotleff

December 6, 2016

Are You Driving Young Growers Away? [Opinion]

In a time when the industry is facing a critical shortage of both labor and skilled, educated growers, it's important that grower operations don't unwittingly turn candidates off to a career at their business or in the industry in general. Take a closer look at your hiring practices to ensure you are being inclusive and not breaking any laws.

Read More

December 6, 2016

America In Bloom Moves Forward With New Management Comp…

Effective Jan. 1, 2017, management of America In Bloom will transition from AmericanHort to Second Wind Management, which is owned by long-time AIB Executive Director Laura Kunkle.

Read More
bailey-nurseries-team-feature

December 5, 2016

How Bailey Nurseries Has Found Solutions To The Labor S…

A changing seasonal workforce led this Minnesota-based company to explore new labor sources through the H-2A program and refugee organizations, and it’s working out for the better.

Read More
mycoapply-from-mycorrhizal-applications-feature

December 5, 2016

New Growing Media Advancements Giving Growers More Opti…

With innovative, sustainable growing media components, growers will be able to improve plant health, achieve consistency among crops, save money, and reduce inputs, while saving space on storage.

Read More

December 5, 2016

Benary’s Jennifer Calhoun: How We Can Make Plants…

I see one main issue facing our industry in getting more people to buy plants — we assume that the way we used to sell plants is the way millennials will want to buy them. Nothing could be further from the truth. We sell plants in small packs that you plant in a hole in your garden, with a generic label that says “blooms all season.” Millennials don’t have gardens, so they want a plant they can put on their fourth floor apartment balcony, or better yet on a shelf in their living room near a window.  We give them too little information to help them be successful under those circumstances. But what we don’t realize is that if the plant dies, they feel personally responsible for killing another living thing which is so painful that they would prefer not to take the chance a second time. If we sold […]

Read More

December 5, 2016

A Visual Guide To Garden Retail Merchandising

Antje Verstl, a German visual merchandiser who has worked with many high level garden retailers in Europe, has a lot of practical, and inspirational advice on how to transform your plant yard into an exciting place to shop. Take a look at this gallery, and enjoy a visual guide from Verstl. Her book, “Eagle & Frog!,” is now available for purchase by an American market through her website.

Read More
mikaela-hermstedt-penn-state-university

December 4, 2016

Shinoda Foundation Names Penn State Horticulture Major …

Mikaela Hermstedt, a 21-year-old senior from Lincoln, DE, plans to pursue a career in commercial greenhouse production of flowering plants.

Read More
all-america-selections-new-website-home-page

December 3, 2016

New Mobile Responsive Website From All-America Selectio…

All-America Selections has launched a newly redesigned and revamped mobile-responsive website that includes a more attractive design, enhanced search tools, and easier and simpler navigation.

Read More
Sea Breeze Catharanthus combo

December 2, 2016

Four Mixed Container Trends To Watch

Mixed containers are still one of the best-selling SKUs at retail. Pay attention to these four trends that are making their mark on multi-liner mixes and combination containers.

Read More
kelly-norris

December 2, 2016

Kelly Norris: How The “Me Too” Philosophy Affects Plant…

When you’re selling the exact same thing as everyone else, it’s unrealistic to expect customers to buy only from you.

Read More
mcconkey-plastic-shelves-feature

December 1, 2016

How Color Point Is Stopping Cart Theft With Plastic She…

Plastic shelving on carts acts as a deterrent to theft, and employees enjoy the benefits of being able to handle the racks without difficulty or injuries.

Read More
oasis-water-valve-feature

November 30, 2016

How You Can Water Plants Based On Basket Weight

The Oasis from Control Dekk is designed to reduce water use by giving baskets the exact amount of water they need.

Read More

November 29, 2016

How Changes In Plant Patent Law Could Affect Your Varie…

There is an ongoing discussion happening among plant genetics companies about the current laws and ethics of plant breeding, and what the future holds for the improved lawful protection of genetics.

Read More
foxglove-aphid

November 29, 2016

How Greenhouse Growers Can Manage The Foxglove Aphid

Recent research is shedding new light on the foxglove aphid. Understanding host plants, identification, and biology will help growers deal with this pest.

Read More
endless-summer

November 29, 2016

Endless Summer Hydrangeas Will Soon Feature New Identit…

Bailey Nurseries, which first introduced the reblooming hydrangea a decade ago, says the new identity will feature a more contemporary look to appeal to current and future gardeners.

Read More
Trays move on an overhead conveyor to the end of the production line, where workers carefully pack the cleaned, sized, graded, counted and sorted Calla tubers

November 29, 2016

Texas Judge Halts Overtime Rule; Here’s What It Means F…

According to Craig Regelbrugge at AmericanHort, the injunction against the overtime rule is welcome news for horticulture.

Read More

November 29, 2016

How The Industry Is Ensuring Consumer Success With Plan…

Greenhouse Grower RETAILING reached out to growers and suppliers for their ideas on how to attract and keep new plant customers. Here's what they had to say about ensuring gardening success.

Read More

November 29, 2016

Heroes To Hives Seeks Veterans For Beekeeping Training

Michigan State University is bringing together two great causes of our times — supporting vets and boosting pollinators — in its new program aimed at teaching professional beekeeping to former soldiers.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]