Speak Up!

What keeps you up at night? The possible answers are endless for the greenhouse grower, and the answers only pose more questions: Can I keep up with rising input costs? Can I maintain my role as a vendor for the box stores? Or, perhaps for the unfortunate few, the appropriate question is can I afford to stay in business?

Those are the grower’s ultimate worries these days, but each of those questions is made up, in part, of underlying questions about national issues like health care, immigration and energy. The questions go something like: How can I offer employees health insurance when my competitors aren’t and they’re beating me on price? Who’s going to work for me if the E-Verify system keeps failing me and the H-2A program doesn’t improve? And when is it going to be mandated that I implement an alternative energy system into my greenhouse operation.

With questions like these on the mind, it’s difficult to imagine growers getting any sleep. The Top 100 Growers certainly have a lot to say about health care, immigration and energy, and they share their two cents in this year’s report (page 16). Still, what’s being done to ensure their voices are heard by the people who enact change? What’s being done to ensure future laws, mandates and regulations reflect the needs of our industry?

Yesterday Is Gone

Associations like the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) and the Society of American Florists (SAF) are, of course, having their experts review the 2,409-page health care bill that was recently made into law to find out the implications for small businesses like yours. In March, SAF had its annual Congressional Action Days in which growers shared their personal stories with Congress and explained how the national issues affect them and their employees. Among the issues addressed was health care reform.

“Some of our members already provide health insurance,” says Brian Gamberini, SAF government relations coordinator. “For those who don’t, they provide incentives in other ways. They want to hire more people, but if they have to pay this [health insurance] penalty or health insurance for 30 or so workers, that would discourage them from raising wages.”

This is just one example of growers dissatisfied over the state of a national issue. The list goes on. But just because what was once legislation is now law doesn’t mean an improved law is beyond reach. “Part of an effective republic like ours is based on the people who are unhappy with those laws,” says Bob Dolibois, ANLA executive vice president. “Those people need to be involved in the process of electing and sustaining the people who would improve the laws in ways we would support.”

The Top 100 Growers want improvements with health care, immigration and energy. You probably do, too. So rather than sit back and wish today’s industry was more like yesterday’s, voice your opinion to an entity that can help make improvements for tomorrow’s growers. Yesterday, after all, is never coming back. 

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