Virtual Fly-In Lays Groundwork for Several Critical Initiatives

Flower Farmers Held 52 Successful Meetings to Make Their Case

Like many things in the past 14 months, Certified American Grown’s annual Washington, D.C. fly-in was disrupted. Instead of descending on our nation’s capital, arms overflowing with flowers and wearing floral boutonnieres and corsages, America’s flower farmers and Certified American Grown staff held a virtual fly-in Feb. 25-26, 2021. 

A total of 17 farmers from across the country participated, some for the first time. 

While not in-person, the event, which included 52 meetings with Congressional offices, the U.S Department of Agriculture, and Customs and Border Protection, was a huge success. It allowed farmers to lay the groundwork for several critical upcoming initiatives, including enforcement of labeling laws on imported flowers; enactment of fair-trade policies; re-introduction and passage of the American Grown Act; garnering support for American Grown Flowers Month (July) in the House and Senate; and increasing membership in the Congressional Cut Flowers Caucus with the addition of Representatives Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Mike Waltz (R- FL). 

All of this is to say, a lot can get done in videoconferences when a dedicated community of farmers and stakeholders put their mind to it! 

Here’s a more in-depth look at successful outcomes

  • A strong commitment from senior leaders at Customs and Border Protection was received to address the lax enforcement of labeling laws on imported flowers and foliage. A follow-up meeting is scheduled for May 2021.
  • In a meeting with the Deputy Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) continued support for the domestic cut flowers and foliage industry was confirmed.
  • The International Trade Counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee confirmed assurances that the committee will work with Customs and Border Protection to ensure labeling laws are enforced, and that flower and foliage farmers have a seat at the table when relevant trade issues arise in Congress.
  • During meetings bipartisan support was affirmed for introduction of the American Grown Act, including interest in potential expansion of its current scope.
  • roaBroad support for House and Senate Resolutions designating July as American Grown Flowers Month was furthered.
  • Announcements were made that Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) would join and serve as the next Republican co-chair of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, along with Reps. Carbajal (D-CA), Young (AK), Pingree (D-ME), Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Panetta (D-CA).

 

These successes and others were made possible through the dedication and hard work of flower and foliage farmers who donated their time to ensure the industry’s voices and needs were heard and that real action will be taken. 

Post-fly-in, staff has been working diligently to follow up on the many meetings and ensure that Certified American Grown priorities make it over the finish line. The  momentum built during the fly-in has created a platform for continued progress. In 2022, Certified American Grown looks forward to returning to in-person meetings with an even larger community of American farmers participating! All with armfuls of American Grown flowers and foliage, of course. 

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