If Flower Farming Were An Olympic Sport, Who Would You Root For?

I do enjoy the Olympics.  Winter, Summer, it doesn’t matter, I like it all.

Washington Post: Kotsenburg celebrates after winning gold in the men’s snowboard slopestyle final. Mike Blake / Reuters

This week it has been nice to wrap up my busy days at work leading up to Valentine’s Day by sitting down in the evening and watching the competitions in Sochi.  I’m not a snowboarder, but I enjoy watching Shawn White, Danny Davis and Gregory Bretz in the halfpipe.  I’ve also noticed that the older I get the more I appreciate figure skating, although I couldn’t tell you the names of anyone on Team USA.  I think it’s the dedication, the sheer determination and that they do represent the very best America has in these unique disciplines that both fascinates and inspires me.

So, I watch and I root for our team, even if I’ve never ridden in a bobsled and I don’t know the names of the people competing.  If they are wearing the red, white and blue, I want to see them do well, win and bring home the gold.

As I continued to make that transition from work life to personal time each evening, I guess it was only natural that I began connecting our advocacy efforts at work during Valentine’s Day week with my interest and support for our American athletes during the games.

It probably didn’t help that after our big Super Bowl win this year (yes, I’m a Hawks fan) that one of my farmers sent me this image via email:

image001

Okay, I get it.  We Americans love our sports, we love our teams and we love our country.  We’ve got a lot of passion when it comes to those things.

And to my farmer’s point, why then don’t we see more of that passion translate to other things, like the cars, the food and the flowers we buy?

Returning to my Olympics analogy, as Americans we don’t root for the Russians because they raise up great quality figure skaters.

If Team USA is competing against Brazil in the bobsled we don’t root for Brazil because they are the known underdog.

No.  Whether we know their name or not; whether they seeded to win or not…we root for the home team.Image 2-14-14 at 1.44 PM

For the record, I bleed blue and gold.  I am professionally and personally passionate about our “CA Grown,” program for our flowers, and for strawberries, and avocados, lettuce, tomatoes, cantaloupe…you get the idea.  I know that the farmers behind these products are working just as hard, are just as dedicated and have honed a discipline that enables them to compete in the market.

Yet, the playing fields for them are just not level.  They worked for hours and hours to make the halfpipe fair for everyone in Sochi. It was still terrible, but it was the same for everyone.

That’s not how it works for auto manufacturers, food producers or flower farmers.

In my role as the CEO of the Commission, I’ve been able to look behind the curtain of trade agreements and it’s not good. I am not a protectionist and the Commission did not even oppose the recent trade agreement with Colombia, our largest competitor.  We just want a fair and clean halfpipe to compete on and we want our fellow Americans to passionately root for us.

Valentine’s Day is over for this year, but the competition continues.  Tomorrow our farms begin preparing for Mother’s Day, the largest holiday of the year for most of them.

“American Grown flowers for the moms of America.” That just sounds right to me.

You know that I’m rooting for Team USA this Mother’s Day, who will you be rooting for?

#AmericanGrown #OriginMatters

I’d love to hear your thoughts below, please leave a comment.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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