This past week myself and our team hosted one of the most important events CCFC / CAG has each year, the DC Fly In. As your CEO, I was beyond proud of the group that dedicated themselves to join us in Washington DC to perform this critical service on behalf of the entire US Cut Flower Industry. Our group consisted of 15 US farmers, 2 professional designers and 3 CCFC staff; all representing 10 States and including Jumana Madanat Misleh, our DC Legislative Consultant, who set up all of our appointments. During the 2.5 days, we held our annual CAG Council Meeting, then divided ourselves up to conquer the 40 + meetings with Representatives, Senators and 3 different departments.
I think I can safely say that this was the 1st ever DC Fly In where we’ve had a Senator actually sign a bill for us right there in his office (pictured below)!
Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska signed the Senate version of the American Grown Act with our group present in his office. Following the signing in Sullivan’s office, the bill was sent to Senator Dianne Feinstein to co-sign the bill.
Other highlights of the trip were us learning how the National Floriculture Report is created and discussing ways we can give input to improve the report managed by NASS, The National Agricultural Statistics Service. Annually, when you are reporting your cut flower variety production, there is an area called ‘other’. Please take a few minutes and write in the specific top five varieties you are growing, not included in the pre-printed list of varieties on the same page. That way we will get an opportunity to have detailed data on individual varieties we grow to better influence marketing decisions for our future.
Meetings last year with the Undersecretary Ted McKinney, in Charge of Foreign AG Trade, initiated conversations with USAID about financial aid given to countries to export flowers into the US market. We discussed with staff from USAID the need to rethink helping Kenya with exporting their flowers into the USA. We also met with the USDA to cover marketing, regulatory programs and fair trade policies for all flowers coming into this country. We presented our stand on ‘Country of Origin’ labeling to numerous people from Department Staff to every Congress person we met. We followed up by getting support to officially designate July as “American Grown Flower Month” and had members of Congress say they would become new members of our Cut Flower Caucus.
As you can see, our annual DC Fly In is one of the most valuable programs we run, creating real change that will help us all maintain the health of our Cut Flower Farms across the United States. This year was the biggest DC Fly In in recent history and it was all topped off by a packed house reception co- sponsored by our friends of The Wine Institute, CHEERS! We all got a second opportunity to talk with Staff, Representatives and Senators we visited during the day and have them leave the reception with Fresh Certified American Grown Flowers. Anna Kalins, our new Event Director was a big part of making this year’s FlyIn a strong success.
In closing, 2020 is the 30th birthday of the Cut Flower Commission. That longevity accomplishment is a true benchmark of the value our growers have experienced, as a result of the work our organization takes pride in.
Doing what matters,
CEO The California Cut Flower Commission #CAGROWN
Administrator Certified American Grown #OriginMatters