When a Flower Farmer Goes to Washington, D.C.

Working "The Hill" in a Farmer's Own Words by Quinton Tschetter

A very interesting and productive trip took place February 25-29 when a delegation of flower farmers went to Washington, D.C. I was among them.

Carolyn and Quinton Tschetter were an integral part of the 2019 DC Fly-In, bringing the concerns of flower farmers to Capitol Hill. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

 

During our time at the nation’s capital, we met with various members of Congress or their representatives. I’m happy to report that, for the most part, our concerns were well-received. In fact, the response to the plights we shared often were: “I didn’t know that was the situation! What can we do to help?”

 

A very productive meeting was had with Cut Flower Caucus Co-Chair, Congresswoman Jamie Herrera-Beutler of Washington state. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

 

From my personal perspective, the best, most productive meetings I was involved in were with Congresswoman Jamie Herrera-Beutler of Washington state, a co-chair of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus; NASS, the statistics branch of the USDA; Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney; and representatives of the U.S. customs and border protection group.

 

Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney took time to meet with our farmers and showed great interest in their concerns. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

 

McKinney was very receptive and knowledgeable and our discussion with customs and border protection representatives was very deep and interesting discussion. I have to say, our meeting with these folks started out with a strong defense of their position and abilities, but seemed to come around to an understanding that they were not accomplishing what they thought was their mission of protecting the integrity of “country of origin” labels.

 

Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

 

It was so satisfying to see the success of our group in presenting the core concerns of American flower farmers over the several days we were there. The unity within the group was refreshing and our concerns were well-received at least 90 percent of the time.

 

Quinton helped create boutonnières for the Wine & Flowers Reception hosting representatives and their staff and inviting them to join the Cut Flower Caucus.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

 

The one issue that’s yet to be realized, even though it was well-presented, is whether we will be successful in getting the White House to commit to exclusively using American Grown Flowers for their events. I look forward to hearing the outcome of that very important ask.

 

Quinton and Carolyn Tschetter after a meeting with Senator Joni Ernst’s office.

 

Bottom line: Our efforts to Make American Flowers Great Again seemed to be successful. I encourage other flower farmers to join the team next February for the annual fly-in.

 

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