This week, the House Ways and Means Committee passed the U.S.-Colombia, Korea and Panama Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with House Committee votes taking place yesterday (Tuesday) with no amendments allowed. The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) legislation, which passed the Senate on September 22, will also be considered with no amendments allowed prior to the FTAs passing today.
On the Senate side, the Finance Committee passed the three FTAs on Tuesday, with votes expected to begin on the Senate and House floors today. Congress is trying to complete action prior to the visit of Korean President Lee on October 13-14.
Today, Kasey Cronquist, CEO/Ambassador of the California Cut Flower Commission had the following comments on the above developments:
“Many agricultural groups in California and across the country have chosen to endorse the three FTAs that are pending before Congress because they perceive that the FTAs generate significant new export opportunities. Unfortunately, these FTAs do not create new markets for our California cut flowers and the permanent nature of the Colombia FTA is anticipated to actually generate a future flood of new flower imports.
“While the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) does not support the FTAs, we understand the importance of passing these agreements to the Obama Administration and a range of American agriculture and industry. We are grateful for the support for California flower farmers from the major players in this debate. We expect that they will continue to champion a modest proposal to benefit U.S. cut flower farmers, who will remain the American industry most devastated by imports from Colombia. Specifically, we continue to work hard for federal funding for a new California transportation and logistics center to help level the playing field with our Colombian competition. This center, according to a September University of Southern California (USC) study will reduce growers’ shipping costs from 22-34 percent.
“Finally and most importantly, we appreciate all the help of our Congressional champions including Representatives Lois Capps, Sam Farr, Mike Thompson, Darrell Issa and Brian Bilbray as well as Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer in this endeavor. We are optimistic that this vital U.S. industry that provides almost 20 percent of U.S. flowers sold and contributes more than $10 billion to the California economy will soon get the federal investment and resources that it needs to thrive over the long-term.”
Congresswoman Lois Capps joins local flower farmers in helping open the greenhouses for the 3rd Annual Carpinteria Greenhouse & Nursery Tour. The public tours begin at 11am on Saturday March 19th. http://carpinteriagreenhouse.wordpress.com/
Thanks to Congresswoman Lois Capps and a host of special guests who participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony this morning in Carpinteria that marked the occasion of the 3rd Annual Carpinteria Greenhouse & Nursery Tour event set for Saturday (March 19th), starting at 11am.
The Congresswoman took a few moments to thank the farms for coordinating this public event and for welcoming all people to see what an important and beautiful industry the cut flower farms are to the community, country and the economy.
More information on the public tours tomorrow can be found at: http://carpinteriagreenhouse.wordpress.com/
California's Flower Farmers head to Washington DC to meet with lawmakers
By this time tomorrow a delegation of twelve cut flower farmers from California will be on a flight to Washington DC to meet with lawmakers to discuss and share their personal experience and concerns over current and future trade policy with Colombia. For over two decades, our California cut flower farms have faced unfair competition with cheaper imported product from Colombia. Colombia’s flower growers enjoy cheaper labor and production costs, lower environmental impact requirements and the support of subsidies from both the US and Colombian governments. Most recently, the Colombian cut flower industry received $210 million in subsidies and support between 2005 and 2009 alone. I liken the Colombian cut flower industry to the US auto industry in that they are “too big to fail” and they represent the third largest export to their country by value, just behind natural resources (oil, minerals, etc) and coffee. However, if the United States doesn’t want to become completely foreign dependent on their flowers then we have to take into account the impacts that current and future trade agreements will have on our American farms and begin leveling the playing field.
Our team of twelve certainly has their work cut out for them, but they share a common bond and a united message that will speak to all those that will listen. There is nothing more valuable than these face to face visits with lawmakers in their offices in Washington DC to make the point that something different needs to be done. On behalf of all of California’s flower farms, we fortunate to have an excellent team going to Washington DC to make the point.
The following is the official press release of the Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House. The event is a great example on how California farms have a tremendous opportunity win friends and fans for CA Grown flowers by inviting people to come see for themselves, what an amazing group of farms there are in California still growing flowers for market.
Crowds of Locals Show Support & Interest in Local Greenhouse Farming
The 1st Annual Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House raises awareness in buying local while raising funds for local charities
MONTEREY BAY, CA – Over 600 people attended and over $5,000 was raised for local charities during the 1st Annual Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House held on Saturday, June 19, 2010. Seven local greenhouse farms—B & H Flowers, Inc., California Floral Greens, California Pajarosa, Jacobs Farm, Kitayama Brothers, Pacific Plug & Liner, and Succulent Gardens—all opened their greenhouse doors to provide a one day event to educate and explain what’s locally ‘growing on’ under those glass roofs.
Guests enjoyed the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of locally grown products ranging from cut flowers, potted plants, succulents, ornamental greens, herbs & vegetables. Along with presenting the various stages of growing, the different tours touched on specific growing techniques, the importance of sustainability practices, water recycling and conservation and many more ‘behind the scenes’ techniques that otherwise go on unknown to the average consumer.
“My family has been growing flowers for over one-hundred years, » shared Stuart Kitayama the Operations Manager for Kitayama Brothers. “Our family never really thought to open our greenhouses up to the public before we started planning this event.I guess we assumed that people wouldn’t be that interested, so the large turnout, interest and support was a wonderful surprise.”
The inaugural event also drew the attendance of Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA17), who while touring the various greenhouses, took a moment to share his thoughts with the other local attendees highlighting his support and appreciation for the local greenhouse farms.
“These greenhouse farms are important culturally and economically to our area,” shared the Congressman.“I’m pleased and impressed to see the local turnout and support for them and their event.This event is a wonderful opportunity for our community to see, learn and support our local greenhouse farms and the products they grow here.”
“We weren’t sure what to expect,” said Paul Furman, sales manager of California Pajarosa, a specialty rose grower.“But I think the positive response we received and the funds we were able to raise for Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Trust give us a lot to consider in planning for next year.One more thing for us to grow!”
The event was sponsored by the California Cut Flower Commission, Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, American Ag Credit, K W Commercial Real Estate, Rabobank, Mountain Shore Inc., Robert Mann Packaging, Systems USA, Growers Logistics, LLC, and San Francisco Flower Mart.
The weekend is finally here. Tomorrow I will be traveling to Ithica, NY to participate in this year’s Seeley Conference. I attended this conference for the first time last year and found it to be a great atmosphere to discuss some of the big picture issues facing our industry. This year’s topic will be sure to not to disappoint: Sustainability.
Having recently had quite the facilitated discussion about this topic at the Commission’s May meetings, with lots of grower input, the timeliness of a broader industry-wide discussion on the subject couldn’t be better. I look forward to sharing the information, insights and discussions learned during this year’s conference with our Grower Research and Economic Development Committee as we march forward on a plan for California’s flower and greens farms.
Here is a little excerpt from the Seeley website, outlining what one can expect this year:
Kicking off the conference is Dr. Rob Stavins who is Director of the Harvard University’s Environmental Economics Program. A second keynote will be delivered by Joel Makower, Executive Editor of GreenBiz.com, whom the Associated Press refers to as the “guru of green business practices.” Steve Windhager of the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center closes the first day with an overview of the newly released Sustainable Sites Initiative guidelines.
The second day starts with case study presentations by representatives from Walmart and the Food Marketing Institute relating their respective sustainability experiences. This will be followed up with detailed presentations from Kaji Kado of PPD Technologies and Will Healy from Ball Horticulture with each of them discussing procedures for calculating water and carbon footprints using life cycle analysis. The day will wrap up with case study discussions from floriculture and nursery industry leaders regarding their respective successes and challenges in this area.
The closing keynote address on the last morning of the conference will be given by Robert Dolibois, Executive Vice President of the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) who will highlight the responses made by green industry participants in addressing environmental issues, the importance of consumer and legislator perceptions about our products and services, and what is being done in the industry to convey our value proposition of enhancing the lives of consumers through ecosystems services and other benefits (health, aesthetics, economic, etc). The final speaker on the program will be Fred Haberman who will lead attendees in a discussion of how best to tell their story regarding their sustainability-related business practices.
A special guest appearance by Congressman Sam Farr was certainly appreciated by participating growers during the 1st Annual Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House. Congressman Farr took a moment while touring the Kitayama Brothers greenhouses to share a few words with the crowd (almost 600 people attended that day!) and share his support for the California cut flower farms in his district.
Despite the busy Mother’s Day push on their farms at home, several members of the CCFC Board of Commissioners and Transportation Committee traveled to Washington, D.C. on April 19-21, to impact the political process on Capital Hill and to increase USDA’s attention to the needs of domestic cut flower farmers. CCFC Chairman Hans Brand, CCFC Finance Chair Lane DeVries, Transportation Committee member Winston Moore and Transportation Committee Chair Rene Van Wingerden made up the delegation of representative flower farmers from California. The team completed 18 meetings on Capitol Hill during their whirlwind day and a half in Washington and worked very hard to make the case for funding to support the “New Model” Transportation plan recently approved by the Board of Commissioners. The trip created a much-needed buzz for our industry in the halls of both the Congress and USDA. By taking the time to come to DC, these CCFC leaders have laid the necessary groundwork for a promising year for California cut flower farmers in DC.
High profile visits with members included, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA17), Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA23), Congressman Wally Herger (R-CA02), Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-CA39) and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan.
Numerous senior Capitol Hill staff also met with the group including Joaquin Esquivel with Senator Boxer (D-CA), Jonathan Birdsong, Legislative Director to Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA01), and Jeff Vanderslice, Legislative Assistant to Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA46), and Martha Foley, the Clerk (staff director) to the House Appropriations Committee.
Yesterday the CCFC participated in the Fresh Produce and Floral Council Expo in Pleasanton, CA. The Commission continues to see great value and results in leveraging the CA Grown brand and message to retailers for consideration and use.
Highlighting how CA Grown will actually serve to identify the product that people would prefer to buy and support if they can just see where its from.
As a vehicle for these important messages, we talked with retailers about our Hint Card program and how this program would not only help identify where the product is grown, but also serve to provide additional incremental sales through the whimsical and creative hints included in the cards.
The Commission continues to serve to manage the brand and message that California is America’s best source for high quality flowers.
At the Commission’s May meetings the Grower Research and Economic Development Committee will be hosting a facilitated discussion on the subject of sustainability, what it means for California flower and greens farmers and what should be done based on where things stand today.
All of California’s cut flower and greens growers are invited to attend this important discussion and provide feedback on how California farms could collectively support a certain direction that would bring positive recognition and attention to current and future sustainability efforts of our California flower and greens farms.
The meeting information is:
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
9:00 AM – 12:15 PM
Four Points by Sheraton
1050 Schooner Dr
Ventura, CA 93001
Please call Janice Wills-Curtis or Kasey Cronquist for more information and feel free to share your thoughts here.