Meet Your Commissioner: Michael A. Mellano PhD, District 4

Michael A. Mellano, PhD | District 4 | Mellano & Co.

Flower farming is a highly intensive, competitive and busy business, what compels you to volunteer your time as a Commissioner for the California Cut Flower Commission?

There are several reasons why I volunteer.  First I believe that we as an industry can and must work together in order to remain competitive going into the future.  There is a lot that we can do to advance our cause by working together that would be impossible or at a minimum very slow to do if we only worked as individuals.  The structure and make up of the CCFC optimizes that effort and ensures that there is fairness for all growers of all sizes in the state relative to focus, priorities and funding of our efforts.

Secondly…I feel that we have a responsibility to each other as individual operators to share our personal vision, concerns and potential solutions to problems that we are faced with as an industry.  We each need to be part of the solution and not part of the problem and the only way to do that is to volunteer and participate.  We may not always agree but the only way we will achieve a collective vision is if we take the time to share.

Lastly…..I believe in doing rather than waiting.  The easy path is to wait for things to happen but I just can’t do that.  I believe in trying to make things happen, to push people out of their comfort zone and cause them to think beyond the immediate!

The Commission has four main focus areas as it represents its farms, Governmental Affairs, Promotions, Grower Research and Economic Development, and Transportation, what progress are you seeing in these areas on behalf of California’s flower farms?

CCFC District 4 Commissioner Michael A. Mellano, PhD. with Assemblywoman Toni Atkins.

Obviously there are always differing opinions about where to focus our energies as an organization but there is no doubt that we have a balanced approach. Each of our four areas are contributing to our future success.  The DC trips are eye-opening and anybody out there – grower or not – that has never gone owes it to themselves to get back there and see first hand how our government operates….and make a difference.  It is a stimulating experience to say the least.

The GRED committee has really come up with some very novel efforts to improve our growers position.  The FRAME initiative, currently focused on Gerberas & Lilies, is for the first time giving growers of those commodities real time information that they can use to benchmark their effectiveness.  We are looking forward to expanding this to other crops as time and funding allows.

In addition we have taken on the major effort of the Sustainability initiative focused on differentiating our position in the global discussion and ultimately allowing us to proceed upon a focused improvement on behalf of the entire industry.

The Commission recently completed a strategic planning process. One of the conclusions was that the Commission needs to commit to an annual trip to Washington DC.  Why do you feel its important for the Commission to organize an annual trip for its farmers to fly out to Washington DC?

See above…..

The “CA Grown” program has been a successful effort for branding California’s flowers with customers and consumers.  The CCFC is taking that success a step further now with its new messaging. What opportunities do you see ahead for marketing “California Flowers as America’s Flowers?”

I think that there is no doubt that the CA Grown label has resonated with consumers in CA and has seen significant success and I think that there is more to be had if we can get higher buy in and cooperation from our retail partners.  Overall though, the label needs to be supported by consistency and quality to maintain the following and make it grow.  There are a lot of people in CA and if we just get them to change buying patterns and opt for CA flowers…combined with an increase in consumption then we probably don’t have enough flowers to go around!  Overall though, we need to extend that appreciation to a wider audience throughout the US so they need to know that we ARE America’s flowers!

America’s Flowers: Worth Fighting For by Lane DeVries

April Issue of SAF's Floral Management

Did you get your April issue of Floral Management?

Check out CCFC’s Chairman Lane DeVries’ Viewpoint article.

CCFC’s Chairman Lane DeVries of Sun Valley Floral Farms took an opportunity in this month’s Floral Management magazine to address the specific issues and concerns regarding the effect federal trade policies have had on the flower farmers of California.  Titled, “America’s Flowers: Worth Fighting For,” Chairman DeVries’ highlights that California’s flower farmers’ issues and concerns have little to nothing to do with begrudging the success of Colombian flower growers, but rather a frustration with U.S. Government’s trade policies.

“California flower farmers, by and large, don’t begrudge the success of Colombian flower growers. As a matter of fact, many good friends in the flower business are growers in Colombia and other South American countries.”

Chairman DeVries’ article was, in part, a response to February’s Viewpoint article written by SAF’s Chairman Leo Roozen titled, “Colombia: Don’t Begrudge Their Success.”  Roozen’s February Viewpoint was inspired by his recent experience visiting Colombia’s growing operations.  Chairman DeVries highlights that it is the specific U.S. trade policy concerns that have left domestic (not just California) farmers at a disadvantage, rather than frustrations with Colombia’s success and growth in the U.S. market.

Additionally, “Letters to the Editor,” from California flower farmers responding to Roozen’s Viewpoint, were sent in from David Clark of Kendall Farms and Rene VanWingerden of Ocean Breeze Floral Farms who also shared their thoughts on the fairness of the “playing field.” (pg.8).

Lane ends his Viewpoint article highlighting his hope and vision for the future ahead for California’s flower farms, saying:

“I can see a future where consumers request local flowers from local florists, and that’s a future worth fighting for.”

Experiencing California at SAF’s Annual Convention

By Chad Nelson, Eufloria Flowers
Chairman, California Cut Flower Commission

Chad Nelson, CCFC Chairman

I really enjoyed this year’s SAF Convention in Palm Springs.

During last week’s convention, I had the chance to participate in a variety of interesting meetings and valuable activities.  However, what I ended up enjoying the most was the camaraderie with my fellow California flower farmers.  Typically we are all so busy working and selling our flowers, that not nearly enough time is made to catch up and hear how others are doing.  In addition, I was really proud to be a part of a team of California flower farmers that did a great job representing California while the convention was being held in California.

I must give credit to CCFC’s Promotion Committee Chair Rodi Groot and his committee for their forward thinking and thoughtful consideration on how to best represent the CA Grown brand while at Convention.  It was great to see the work and thought that the committee put into preparing for the convention come together for the benefit of us all.  I personally appreciated seeing all of the “CA Grown” buttons worn by all of us representing our California flower farms.  It was fun to see where those buttons ended up.  I noticed that some had made their way into the hands of retailers who were equally as proud to represent their support for CA Grown flowers.

The Promotion Committee also felt that it was important to welcome all of the convention’s attendees to California.  Recognizing it couldn’t be done with our flowers, someone suggested that a welcome card with a “CA Grown” bottle of wine would be a nice touch.  And it was.  I received many acknowledgements of thanks for this warm gesture from the Commission; something I believe people will remember.

I was also proud to see the Commission sponsoring this year’s Sylvia Cup.  The Sylvia Cup is a longstanding tradition in our industry and I believe that our “CA Grown” brand is well served by our affiliation and sponsorship of this event.  I don’t know where he got this, but I think our Ambassador Kasey says it best when he says that the Sylvia Cup is, “America’s best designers paired with America’s best flowers.”

In addition, I also want to congratulate my fellow “Best in Class” award winners from the Outstanding Varieties Competition.  Seeing five out of the eleven entries from California is not only notable, but also a reflection of the passion that I know goes into growing our flowers.  Congratulations to Green Valley Floral, Holland America Flowers and Resendiz Brothers.

The combination of all of these efforts really made me proud to be a part of the team here in California.  I really want to thank the commission’s Promotion Committee for putting all of these pieces together in such a way that you couldn’t help but feel proud of who we are and what we do for our industry from right here in California.