We’ll Just Agree to Disagree

American Flower Farmers Lobby for Border Adjustment Tax, SAF Lobbies To Exempt Imported Flowers

You’ve probably heard someone use the phrase, “let’s just agree to disagree.”

It’s often used when you get to that point in a conversation with your spouse, friend or colleague where neither side is budging on their opinion or perspective regarding an issue and someone finally says, “well, let’s just agree to disagree.”

America’s flower farmers recently lobbied in support for a Republican proposal for a Border Adjustment Tax that would help level the playing field with imported flowers.

This phrase seems to sum up the relationship between the Society of American Florists (SAF) and America’s flower farmers regarding the Boarder Adjustment Tax (BAT) being proposed by House Republicans as a part of their “blueprint” on reforming the nation’s tax system.

During their annual Congressional Action Days in Washington, D.C.,  SAF members lobbied Congress to support the BAT, but requested an exemption for

My Small Farm’s Commitment To Something Bigger

Guest Blog By Flower Farmer Michael Genevose of Summer Dreams Farm

Michael Genovese Summer Dream Farms Oxford, Michigan

As a farmer, it is easy to fall into the daily grind and get comfortable. When you’re trying to start seeds, till new ground or finish harvesting before the rains come the farm is all-consuming. In farming, quality family time is often time spent in the field with your kids and spouse working on the never-ending list of chores. You’re regularly making sacrifices. Attending a child’s soccer game is out of the question at the height of harvest season. It’s difficult enough keeping the ocean of responsibilities at bay, let alone taking on more.

And yet there is more we must consider taking on.

The unfortunate truth is, there are forces beyond our towns and farms that will impact us unless we get

Tours Matter

Carpinteria Flower Farms Host 9th Annual Farm Tour

California flower farmer Jerry Van Wingerden shares his passion for growing flowers with a group during this year’s annual farm tours in Carpinteria.

 

Awareness.

Approximately 80 percent of all cut flowers sold in the United States are imported from South America, primarily Colombia.

A national consumer research study found that 74 percent of people have no idea where flowers come from, yet 58 percent would prefer flowers that are homegrown.

Origin matters. Whether you’re focused on quality, longevity, sustainability, local jobs or the economy. Origin matters.

Look for the label when you buy your flowers. It makes a difference.

LA Times Features Farm Tours, Dinner

Field To Vase Dinner Tour Stops In Carpinteria

It’s hard to believe we’ve been hosting free flower farm tours for nine years now, but what started as a simple way to welcome the public onto our flower farms once a year has turned into an annual tradition that’s going on a decade.

This year’s Los Angeles Times article encourages the public to tour Carpinteria’s flower farms.

The tradition has had some culminating impacts that could not have been foreseen when the idea was first imagined. The tour now welcomes thousands of people, not hundreds. Nonprofits are involved to help raise funds for their causes and media coverage is garnered from major news sources like the LA Times.

The very first American Grown Field to Vase Dinner was held in a gerbera daisy greenhouse at the Kitayama Brothers flower farm in Watsonville in 2013 as a kickoff to that year’s Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House.

In fact, it was the farm tours in Carpinteria and Monterey that helped give life to the idea of holding the American Grown Field to Vase Dinners we’re hosting all across the country today.

Guests learn about the work and effort that go into producing flowers in California.

The lesson? Never discount what a small initial step might accomplish for the future. Nine years later, we can look back and see how these pieces have added up to create some incredible opportunities, value and awareness for the cause of encouraging consumers everywhere to “take pride in their flowers.”

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Not many seats remain, but if you’d like to join the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Carpinteria, make sure you visit FieldtoVaseDinner.com and reserve your seats.

The 9th Annual Carpinteria Greenhouse & Nursery Tour will be held on Saturday April 1. Visit carpinteriafarmtours.com for a map of this year’s participating farms.

So much to learn, so much to see during our annual farm tours. Here Alex Van Wingerden of Gallup & Stribling shares his passion for growing orchids.

The 8th Annual Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House will be held on June 17. Visit montereybayfarmtours.org for a map and more information on this year’s free farm tours.

 

 

 

Uniting California Agriculture in 2017

United Ag Invites Panelist to Speak on "Advancing Together"

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in United Ag’s annual conference as a panelist to discuss the effort of uniting California agriculture to better address the challenges and misconceptions agriculture faces with legislators in Sacramento, and an increasing regulatory environment on farm management and production.

I joined Joel Nelsen of Citrus Mutual, George Radanovich of the California Fresh Fruit Association, Amy Wolfe of AgSafe, Mike Stoker of the Law Office of Mike Stoker and Emily Rooney of Agriculture Council of California.

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross and I at the United Ag conference in Napa. Secretary Ross was the keynote speaker during lunch.

Each of us facilitated some small-group discussions regarding where farms feel things stand right now after a very difficult and discouraging legislative session in 2016 where the overtime exemption for farm employees was taken away, while farms faced a substantial jump to a $15 minimum wage in the next four years. Needless to say, the conversation was dynamic and people had a lot to say about the political environment California farmers face today.

The theme of United Ag’s Conference was “Advancing Together,” and our session was entitled, “A Unified Voice.” You might think that after a century of farming in California, we’d have promotion and advocacy down to a science farmers could count on. However, the reality is that it’s California’s rich diversity in production that is also its Achilles heel in getting organized. We are so big and represent so much value with over 400 crops in production, it’s really tough to get farmers to band together with such diverse needs, production styles and crop types.

So, how do you unite such diversity?

Agriculture Council of California CEO Emily Rooney and I shared the stage at United Ag’s annual conference in Napa on Thursday.

That’s the million dollar question, and it was great to hear so many farmers in the audience discuss their thoughts on the matter. Specifically, I shared how important I found the Ag President’s Council as a unifier. The California Cut Flower Commission has been a part of the Ag President’s Council for almost as long as it has been around. The value of the council is that it feeds off of the diversity of the stakeholders at the table. There’s recognition that there are different opinions and approaches on policy and even positions on those policies, but it becomes a very important table to discuss options and ideas, especially now when the approach that agriculture has been taking isn’t working and we need to better position California agriculture to not be so flat-footed when the Legislature and organized labor band together to attack farmers, spreading false claims and misleading the public on the merits of a debate.

We’ve got a lot of organizing still to do, but I appreciated being invited by United Ag to participate in its conference and discuss how we “advance together.”

Senator Mike McGuire Tours Sun Valley Floral Farms

Senator Sponsored SCR 146 Declaring June California Grown Flower Month

Senator Mike McGuire and flower farmer Lane DeVries during a recent tour of Sun Valley Floral Farm in Arcata.

While our organization’s focus has been facing issues on the federal level, CCFC’s past-chair Lane DeVries recently hosted California State Senator Mike McGuire on a tour of his farm, Sun Valley Floral Farm. Senator McGuire was the lead sponsor in the Senate for a joint resolution

Senator Mike McGuire (right, red tie) with his colleagues in the Senate who supported his resolution to recognize June as California Grown Flower Month.

declaring June as California Grown Flower Month.

Last year was a very difficult legislative year for California agriculture. The Assembly and Senate made decisions that have been detrimental to California agriculture’s ability to compete, and remarks were made during debates that farmers won’t soon forget. It’s more important than ever for farmers to sow relationships with their representatives on every level, highlighting the value they bring to their communities and the impact they make on the economy.

Thank you to Senator McGuire for taking the time to visit one of our flower farmers and for your support for California agriculture, and kudos to Lane and Sun Valley for making the effort to host the visit. These relationship-building opportunities do make a difference.

2017 Farm & Flower Guide Is Underway

This Will Be Our Best Year Yet!

Each year, the CCFC works with our farms and the team at Florists Review to publish an annual farm and flower guide that’s distributed in the June issues of Florists Review and Super Floral Magazine.

The botanical look of our new online directory is based off of our annual Farm and Flower Guide.

This guide has been a tremendous resource for wholesalers, designers and floral educators who seek out and count on the updated information, design ideas and farm profiles. A survey of readers was recently done and the response was amazing. Respondents told us that they’d like to see the guide twice a year!

We won’t be going that far, but the enthusiasm and support for the publication is appreciated and highlights the value it brings to the readers and the industry.

The new directory will be both beautiful and functional for helping people find the farm and flowers they are looking for.

The added benefit of this year’s California Farm & Flower guide project will be the relationship it will have to our redesigned website at ccfc.org. A redesign of the Commission’s website is underway and the flowers directory we see in the annual California Farm & Flower Guide will be the same flowers we use in the online digital directory.

So, if you’d like to see your flowers featured on our newly designed website and in the 2017 Farm & Flower Guide, be sure to become a supporter by sponsoring the new guide. The team at Florists Review will be contacting each of our farms for support and sponsorship. June will be here before we know it, so make sure you’re in on this great opportunity to feature your farm and flowers.

Lisa Strydom and Teresa Salts with Florists Review will be contacting farms, but don’t wait! Be proactive and contact them directly today.

And The Rain Just Keeps Coming

Last weekend, I took my son down to the Nimbus Dam to show him something I hope he remembers forever.

I wanted him to see the water roaring through the dam near our house. The water situation in Northern California has become pretty extreme, with the situation in Oroville making national news. So, to go to our nearby dam to see just how high the river has risen was pretty incredible. We were looking at a river that wasn’t just climbing its banks, but was climbing what were previously seen as sheer cliffs. The spot where people typically fished for salmon below the dam appeared to be 20 to 30 feet below surface now.

Of course, all of this water is good for California.

Chris Beytes of GrowerTalks published a piece highlighting how quickly things have turned around here in California, saying, “What a difference a year makes.”  It certainly has.

Check out these “before and after” drought monitoring maps.

The imagery is pretty self-explanatory. Red is bad, etc., etc. You can see here the year-over-year position of the state, and then what it looked like in November of last year. The change is dramatic.

Heavy rains and wind expected for Santa Barbara area.

And the rain just keeps coming. More rain is expected hit Northern California starting on Thursday, and then Friday for Southern California. In fact, there are weather warnings in the Santa Barbara area indicating heavy rain and high winds. Coincidentally, that’s right where that little spec of red remains on the map.

The cloudy and rainy weather has had some impact on cut flower production. However, the pros have certainly outweighed the costs. Some of our farms are benefiting from the free rain water coming through in these storms, and for those that have had production impacted, the silver lining will be less politicizing of the water situation in the Capitol during this year’s legislative session. Hopefully,  all of this water during the “wet years” refreshes conversations on how to better serve and solve California’s chronic water issues during the “dry years.”

Meet CCFC Intern Charizma Mendoza

Cal Poly Pomona Student To Help With Marketing and Promotions

Charizma Mendoza, a student at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, was recently selected to intern with the Commission during the spring semester. Charizma is an agribusiness and food industry management major and in her senior year. She was also a member of the 2016 Agriculture Leadership Class, where I first met her while the class was visiting Sacramento and learning about ag policy.

Charizma is a member of the 2016 Agriculture Leadership Class.

Charizma has been assigned two main projects this semester that will help the CCFC and Certified American Grown advance their respective missions. For the CCFC, she will be helping us prepare for next year’s Rose Parade. That may sound early, but the Cal Poly students are already making their decisions on next year’s float design, and the CCFC continues to advance its efforts to bring more CA Grown flowers to the Rose Parade. Charizma is excited about the task and the difference it will make in helping us achieve that goal.

Charizma will also be helping us coordinate a resource kit for our Certified American Grown flower farms. We have some great ideas and examples to share with our farms on how to further their promotions with Certified American Grown, and Charizma will be packaging these all up for delivery to our Certified farms.

Her enthusiasm is contagious, and we’re excited to have her on the team. She’ll be making calls, reaching out to farms and helping us accomplish these important projects. I hope you get to speak with her while she is with us.

Safeway Goes Blue Before Valentine’s Day

CA Grown Flowers Are Front and Center

Safeway floral departments throughout Northern California have turned blue just in time for Valentine’s Day.

A new Safeway floral department display in Northern California uses blue buckets to feature and help consumers identify flowers that are grown in the Golden State.

Blue?

Yes! The Northern California division stores are featuring all of their California Grown Flowers by displaying them in blue buckets. In addition to some point-of-purchase signage, the buckets help customers quickly identify which flowers are part of their CA Grown offerings.

The blue bucket display featuring California Grown Flowers will continue through next week’s Valentine’s Day holiday. This show of support (and supply) for California Grown Flowers in Safeway’s Northern California stores isn’t unusual. Representatives from the Nor Cal region report that their department is generally stocked with anywhere from 50 percent to 75 percent California Grown on any given day.

The blue bucket display, combined with the beautiful “CA Grown” posters, really do a great job of connecting the dots on the importance of the origin of flowers for consumers to consider before Valentine’s Day.

It probably helps sales, too!