Friday, March 28, 2014

Launching the Congressional Flower Caucus

Last month I was part of a 16 member delegation of American Flower Farmers that gathered in Washington DC to lobby for stronger advocacy for our country’s flower farmers. Many of the farmers were from the California, but there were representatives from Alaska, Washington (the state), Oregon, Maryland and Virginia, as well. This was the second year we assembled as a national group of cut flower and greens farmers to take our issues to Capitol Hill.

This year our efforts really came to fruition when Representatives Lois Capps and Duncan Hunter launched the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus. That’s something we have been working on for more than a year. We’d been planting seeds – building relationships with legislators, educating them about our issues and persuading them that the American public wants to know more about their flowers’ origin, just as they do the foods they eat. We told representatives the caucus would be a great opportunity for representatives to connect with their constituents to better understand what goes into flower farming in our country, the jobs it creates and the rewards involved with supplying local flowers to local retailers, florists and consumers. It became clear that the growing interest in the “buy local” movement was going to help us, but it was still very exciting to come home knowing we’d secured a team of congressional champions dedicated to our cause. 

And there’s even more. The White House administration recently used all American grown flowers in a state dinner with French president Francoise Hollande. “The dinner celebrated the ‘best of American cuisine’ and featured dry aged rib eye beef from Colorado, trout from Maine, cheese from Vermont, chocolate from Hawaii, and potatoes from New York, Idaho, and California.  The wines served at the dinner included excellent selections featuring California, Washington State, and Virginia offerings,” shared USDA Deputy Secretary Harden on the Department’s blog. “However, beyond the menu itself an equally impressive feature was the visible presence of American cut flowers.”


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