Congresional Action Days

At CAD, Industry Members Engage – and See Results

Re-post: Hillcrest Garden, Inc. | Staff Writer Shelley Rodriguez | written by Heather Larson

Floral Industry News ,  Government Relations ,  Week In Review

It didn’t take long last year to prove that when floral industry members come together in Washington, D.C., their combined voices can make a big difference.

Months after 119 growers, wholesalers, retailers and suppliers from 30 states asked lawmakers to increase floriculture research funding during the Society of American Florists’ 2017 Congressional Action Day, the  House Appropriations Committee  wrote a recommendation doubling that amount.

“The Committee values the importance of the floral and horticulture industry as floral and nursery crops are the third-largest domestic crop in value,” reads the report, which recommended increasing the funding of the Floriculture Nursery Research Initiative to $500,000. “The FNRI is focused on addressing and solving the industry’s challenges and needs.”

That message of support is a direct result of SAF members lobbying during CAD — and SAF’s 38th Annual Congressional Action Days, March 12-13, in Washington, D.C., will build on exactly that kind of momentum.

“This is really big news: We have it in writing that Congress values the industry,” said SAF Chief Operating Officer Drew Gruenburg last year of the House committee’s recommendation on FNRI funding. Gruenburg noted that during and after Congressional Action Days, floral industry members worked hard to educate lawmakers on the valuable role FNRI plays in industry research, and the importance of the floral industry to the overall U.S. economy.

“It shows the power of constituent involvement,” he said.

Shawn McBurney, SAF’s senior director of government relations, added: “When CAD participants discussed FNRI with congressional offices, noted its importance, and asked that the program’s funding be partially restored, those offices enthusiastically responded. Rather than being politely dismissed, SAF members were listened to and commitments were made on the spot to support FNRI funding through an official funding request procedure.”

Eric Levy, owner of Hillcrest Garden in Paramus, New Jersey, and the president of International Floral Distributors, has participated in a number of CADs, and said he’s seen the pay-off of engagement firsthand.

“I do believe that when congressional representatives see enough people come through their offices asking for the same thing, they act,” he said. “And you always learn so much at CAD. For example, last year, I learned about the corporate tax rate. Fast forward 10 months, and the Republican-led Congress lowered the corporate tax rate to 21 percent. Now I can explain the issue to my colleagues and family members, because I heard about it all at SAF’s CAD.”

For CAD details and to register, visit  safnow.org/cad . The cut-off date for guaranteeing the SAF room rate at the CAD hotel is Feb. 16. The early-bird registration fee is $295 for members and $395 for non-members by Feb. 23. Your CAD registration includes an additional FREE registration for a second person from your company who has never attended CAD before. This offer is not available online; please contact meetings@safnow.org .

SAF’s 38th Annual Congressional Action Days is underwritten by Platinum Partner CalFlowers and Gold Partners BloomNet, FTD and Teleflora.

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Eric Levy, President, Hillcrest Garden, Inc.