Cultivate’14: Speakers Share Latest On Farm Bill, Immigration And Health Care

At Cultivate’14, Immigration, Regulatory and Health Care Info You Need To Know, provided growers, retailers and other industry members with a snapshot of information on the Affordable Care Act, immigration laws and the Farm Bill and how they could be impacted.

Craig Regelbrugge and Joseph Bischoff of AmericanHort, along with Wayne Mertel of Digital Insurance, gave the update on urgent legislative issues.

2014 Farm Bill

The 2014 Farm Bill will provide $1 trillion over 10 years. While 79 percent of the funds will go toward the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), there will be $1.8 billion allocated for the following programs:

Neonics: An important Debate

Bees add economic value to products and as much as 30 percent of our food crops rely on bees, Bischoff says. They account for $15 billion in added crop value.

However, the media can sometimes offer a slanted view of the role neonicotinoids play in bee health. In actuality, there are a number of factors affecting bees, including:

  • nutrition
  • weather
  • queen failure
  • beekeeping practices
  • pesticides
  • parasites
  • diseases
  • varroa mites
  • genetic weaknesses
  • diminishing habitats

“We’re being pointed at a lot, but we’re part of the solution,” Bischoff says.

Part of the solution is to develop public and private partnerships, something Bischoff says AmericanHort is doing the with the USDA. Supporting research and developing a stewardship program are other pieces necessary for a solution. Bischoff says they have to be ready by next season to deal with the issue.

Currently, members of the industry can visit the AmericanHort Knowledge Center for articles and information to learn more.

“It’s about educating the industry, making sure we’re armed and ready to answer questions,” Bischoff says.

With a plan in place, the next step is to put together a task force, something the organizations are currently working on.

Healthcare Reform Update

There have been several good things to come out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), says Mertel. Some of those include:

  • everyone having health care coverage
  • removal of pre-existing conditions
  • coverage for adult children until age 26
  • coverage for preventative wellness

So far, there have not been any major updates in 2014 regarding the ACA; however, there could be some changes following the election, says Mertel.

The employer mandate that would penalize businesses that do not offer health insurance has been delayed for 2014. It will resume in 2015 for businesses with more than 100 employees, and in 2016 for those with 51 to 99 employees. The dollar amounts of the individual mandate penalties will increase between 2015 and 2017.

Plan non-discrimination laws will impact who has to be covered by an employer, particularly if employers currently cover some employees and not others, such as seasonal employees.

According to Mertel, a potential change to be aware of is the 40-hour definition of a full-time work week. The ACA first defined full-time as 30 hours. At the moment, it is still 30 hours, but Mertel says he anticipates it will be changed to 35 hours per week.

Another possible change is the elimination of the employer mandate. The penalty aspect of the mandate threatens the viability of some businesses; however, Mertel says the mandate would generate $130 billion over 10 years.

In other health care news, Mertel says there is a private exchange model surfacing, and he is anticipating that some of his clients will move to it. In that scenario, the employer would set the budget and the employee would choose their coverage.

“It’s a win-win,” Mertel says.

Mertel also discussed “skinny plans,” which would offer employees minimum essential coverage. It’s an affordable way for employers to avoid the employer mandate penalty. The target cost of “skinny plans” are between $125 and $200 per month, per employee. However, if an employee offers a “skinny plan” as an option, it makes them ineligible for an exchange subsidy.

Immigration Laws

One-half to three-quarters of the labor force in the U.S. are here with papers “that look better than they actually are,” Regelbrugge says. Meanwhile, there is a flood of unaccompanied minors coming into our system, and we have no resources to react.

The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill a year ago, and while the House committee has considered pieces of the bill, the issue is at a standstill, Regelbrugge says.

Some of the things President Barack Obama is capable of doing to change immigration laws are to shift resources and priorities to deal with the issue, give discretion with respect to deportaitons and tweak the administration of visa programs. He cannot increase visa numbers, which are set by Congress, and cannot grant legal states.

Regelbrugge says some strategies for industry members to address the issue include continuing to press for legislative action and to defend the H-2A and H-2B programs.

 

 

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Latest Stories
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
Silver Bullet Heaters (Heat Star By Enerco) Feature

November 28, 2016

The Latest In Greenhouse Heating And Cooling Products

New developments in heating, cooling, ventilation, and humidity control technology are designed to help you manage your greenhouse environment more efficiently. Check out some of the latest offerings from leading manufacturers.

Read More
prince-tut-cyperus-grass-feature

November 28, 2016

Growing Tips For ‘Prince Tut’ Cyperus Grass

'Prince Tut’ from Proven Winners’ Graceful Grasses collection is versatile, working well in all container sizes with its columnar habit and dense canopy and filling out well in the landscape.

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