Alaska Congressman Don Young, a member of the Congressional Cut Flowers Caucus, has introduced legislation requiring the federal government to purchase cut flowers and greens grown in the U.S. for use in its facilities. The legislation, referred to as the “American Grown Act,” includes bill sponsor support from all six co-chairs of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus: Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Rep. Salud Carbjal (D-CA), Rep. Ducan Hunter (R-CA), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL).
Congressman Don Young (R-AK) speaks with Alaskan flower farmer David Russell in Washington, D.C. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.
In proposing the legislation, Young said requiring the federal government to use American Grown Flowers and Greens to decorate its facilities shows support for American farmers and raises awareness of their beautiful products. Today imports, primarily from Colombia and Ecuador, make up approximately 80% of flowers sold in the U.S.
Congressman Young reviewing production information and market share data on American Grown Flowers and Greens in the United States. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.
Government subsidy programs such as USAID, combined with favorable federal trade policies established in the early ‘90s to stem drug trafficking and encourage cut flower production in these regions, have had a direct and negative impact on American flower-farming families.
The bipartisan legislation has received quick organizational endorsements from Certified American Grown, the Alaskan Peonies Growers Association, AmericanHort, California Farm Bureau Federation, Santa Barbara County Flower and Nursery Growers’ Association, California State Floral Association and the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC).
“It seems like a no-brainer that the United States should be putting American farmers first by choosing not to import cut flowers,” Young said. “Unfortunately for the federal government, this is not the case. American farmers are hugely disadvantaged by the foreign growers that are subject to fewer environmental regulations and labor standards, and it is time Congress does something to help our country’s farmers compete. Putting our farmers first starts at the top, and I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation. I encourage my friends on both sides of the aisle to do right by the flower and greens farmers in their districts and sign on to this important effort.”
Benno Dobbe, a flower farmer in Washington state and California advocates on behalf of America’s flower farming families in Washington, D.C. each year. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.
“This is great news for U.S. cut flower farmers because the bill will bring special attention to the beautiful flowers and greens we grow,” said Benno Dobbe, a flower farmer with farms in Washington State and California. “It will definitely highlight our products and is an outstanding PR opportunity for flower farmers.”
American flower farmers and Certified American Grown also weighed in:
“Once again, Congressman Young’s support and leadership to raise awareness and advocate for our Alaskan flower farmers is greatly appreciated,” said Alaskan peony farmer Rita Jo Shoultz of Homer, Alaska, and a member of the Certified American Grown Council. “The American Grown Act is something that makes sense and is a wonderful way to acknowledge and support our hard-working, flower-farming families across America.”
Alaskan Flower Farmer Rita Jo Shoultz with Congressman Don Young. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.
“I’m sure I speak for flower farmers from all 50 states who are very excited to see this kind of support for America’s flower farmers coming from Washington, D.C., and I hope this bill helps to raise the awareness of the trade issues our farms continue to face,” said June VanWingerden, chair of the CCFC and a flower farmer in Carpinteria, California.
“Most American taxpayers probably assume that the flowers they see displayed at our national cemeteries, federal buildings and government events were grown here in the United States,” said Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist. “The American Grown Act will help ensure that flowers purchased by our federal government for events, occasions and day-to-day displayed are grown and harvested by hardworking Americans.”
More information on the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus can be found at carbajal.house.gov/district/congressional-cut-flower-caucus.htm
More information about the American Grown Act can be at bit.ly/HR3019