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?
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?
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!