FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
American Flower Industry Suffering Staggering Losses
Flower Farmers Working Hard To Keep Flowers Moving In Time Of Crisis
The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has American consumers focused on purchasing necessities like toilet paper, hand soap and food. What they’re not purchasing is flowers on their way to check out, and that’s a problem.
In a conference call on Friday, March 20, over 50 California flower farmers discussed the devastation their farming industry is experiencing due to lack of demand from consumers, canceled orders from industry outlets and transportation line shutdowns.
The bottom line, according to American flower farmers: If the general public doesn’t start buying American Grown Flowers immediately, the American flower industry, its farmers, wholesale distributors, retail designers and all the people who work in those businesses cannot survive.
In fact, several flower farmers on the call said they’re less than a week away from complete ruin.
“America’s flower farmers, the floral industry and all of their employees are teetering on economic devastation” said Dave Pruitt, CEO for The California Cut Flower Commission and administrator of Certified American Grown Flowers. “These people literally cannot hold on without support from consumers. We urge our fellow Americans to please consider purchasing fresh American Grown Flowers and Greens the next time you’re in the store, and ask for our flowers to be added back into the distribution pipeline as a valued agricultural commodity.”
While a handful of retailers nationwide continue to carry flowers, many grocery brands and distributors are canceling orders or turning deliveries away. Farmers also express difficulty with getting their blooms and greens transported due to confusion around agricultural products and their exemption from the restrictions.
“Our Certified American Grown farmers are out in their local communities now assisting the overworked people in the best ways we know – delivering flowers and greens to help alleviate stress and bring moments of joy. We encourage you all to BUY FLOWERS where you can, SHARE THEM and let’s make sure that all farmers are still in business when this crisis is over. Once gone, a farm may be gone forever,” said Rita Jo Shoultz, owner of Alaska Perfect Peony and chair of the Certified American Grown Council.
“A Rutger’s University Study indicated that flowers bring happiness. In the home, they support self care, provide joy, hope and healing,” Shoultz added. “Flowers help counteract negative messages and darkness prevalent at this very moment. Flowers will assuage troubled minds and bring peace to hearts and souls in this time of anxiety and fear.”
Today, flower farmers are asking consumers to purchase a bunch of flowers next time they’re in stores to buy essentials. That purchase could make the difference in an entire industry – one we count on to add beauty to life’s celebrations, express love and decorate our homes.
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About Certified American Grown
Launched on July 1, 2014, Certified American Grown Flowers represents a unified and diverse coalition of U.S. flower farms, including small and large entities in multiple states across the country. Certified American grown flower farms participate in an independent, third-party supply-chain audit to verify both origin and assembly of the flowers they grow. When it appears on bouquets, bunches and other packaging or store signage, the Certified American Grown Flowers logo gives consumers confidence in the source of their flowers and assures them that the flowers they purchase come from a domestic American flower farm. For more information about Certified American Grown Flowers, visit americangrownflowers.com.
About the California Cut Flower Commission
The California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) unites the state’s approximately 225 flower farmers to advance California’s $320 million flower industry. In addition to providing cooperative marketing opportunities and administering advocacy efforts, the commission has positioned the California Grown brand as a highly recognizable, consumer-facing brand to drive sales of the state’s fresh flowers and foliage. Learn more at ccfc.org.
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.
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, a gentle reminder that this coming week our assessed California growers will all receive their ballots to vote on the CCFC Referendum via mail from CDFA. I encourage you to vote, turn your ballot in before March 31st and please feel free to contact me directly with any questions while casting your decision.
Doing what matters,
CEO The California Cut Flower Commission #CAGROWNAdministrator Certified American Grown #OriginMatters
And Why You Should, Too!
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of women earning the right to vote in the U.S., the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) is encouraging residents of the Golden State to wear a yellow flower on election day March 3, especially to their polling place.
Participating is easy! Simply pin a yellow flower to your lapel, blouse or hat and show your support for inclusive elections.
After all, color has long been associated with political movements, and the suffrage movement was no different. The British women’s suffrage colors were purple, white and green. In America, the colors were purple, white and gold.
The use of gold hails back to 1867 when Kansas was considering passage of a state suffrage referendum. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony adopted the Kansas state flower, the sunflower, as a symbol of the suffrage cause. Soon, gold pins, ribbons and sashes, as well as yellow roses, became symbols of the cause.
As noted in The Suffragist, Vol. 1, No. 4 in 1913,
“Gold, the color of light and life, is as the torch that guides our purpose, pure and unswerving.”
Donning a yellow bloom is a simple yet effective way to celebrate women earning the right to vote in August 1920.
Won’t you join us?
It’s Actually An Awesome Tradition
International Women’s Day is a beloved annual March 8 tradition, but did you know this long-celebrated day is NOT a made-up consumer driven holiday to ramp up flower sales like some elude? Instead, it features a storied century-old history of women world-wide, fighting for their rights!
One of the lasting traditions of this celebration, which recognizes women and their achievements, is the simple act of giving flowers… but while this is a meaningful show of appreciation, we wonder how this tradition began.
To truly understand, it’s important to revisit the origin of International Women’s Day. While there are a few ideas behind the true “beginning” of when and where this important celebration began, according to The History Channel the concept of “Women’s Day” floated around for some time (possibly starting as-early-as 1907 in NYC) before officially taking hold in Europe on March 19, 1911, when the first ‘International Women’s Day’ “drew more than 1 million people to rallies worldwide.”
According to the United Nations & History Channel websites… a few years later, In 1917, thousands of Russian textile workers were led by Alexandra Kollontai, a Russian feminist, to go on strike and protest World War I in what was called the “women’s demonstration for bread and peace,”. The women’s actions were greeted with swift success when Czar Nicholas II abdicated the throne four days after the strike, and a provisional government granted Russian women the right to vote.
Fast-forward to nearly a century later, and Lane DeVries of the Sun Valley Group.
DeVries began leading efforts to market Women’s Day as a natural floral holiday in the U.S. in 2010. Since launching the initiative, retailers, wholesalers and other companies have joined efforts to grow the holiday and raise awareness in celebrating it with flowers.
“In a world dominated by our smartphones, social media and an unending news cycle, an opportunity to recognize and say thank you to our mentors, our co-workers, our elders and our daughters in real time is proving to be a welcome addition to the traditions we celebrate,” DeVries said.
“After all, the idea of Women’s day is simple and positive – showing respect and gratitude for the women in our lives, and flowers do an exceptional job of conveying those feelings.”
Of course, International Women’s Day is about more than simply showing appreciation with a beautiful gift of flowers, but there is nothing wrong with this gesture accompanying the fight for gender equity and parity. Giving the gift of California grown flowers to your family, co-workers, and best friends is a wonderful way to show you appreciate them during this year’s International Women’s Day.
Remember to look for the official ‘CA GROWN’ sticker to know your flowers were grown & handled right here in California. Helping to ensure the flowers on your table are as fresh, sustainable, and locally grown as the food on your plate!
Entry featured over 33,000 stems donated by 21 California flower farmers
Entry featured over 33,000 stems donated by 21 California flower farmers
Thirty-three thousand stems. Twenty-three donating farms. Twenty farm ambassadors. Ten thousand stickers. Seven-hundred thousand attendees. Sixty-five million TV viewers. Those are the figures behind the award-winning Certified California Grown Rose Parade entry from Cal Poly Universities.
The float, titled “Aquatic Aspirations,” earned the Director Award for the most outstanding artistic design and use of floral and non-floral materials at this year’s Rose Parade, held New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California.
The entry, designed, constructed and decorated by students from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, included over 94 percent of cut flower and plant materials from California – just one more data point that shows how impressive this win really is!
The float earned California Grown Certification at a ceremony Dec. 31. Certified floats must be decorated with more than 85 percent of cut flowers and greens from the Golden State. This is the ninth year the Cal Poly float has earned California Grown certification.
The float featured a submarine exploring a sunken shipwreck that’s also home to a colorful array of marine wildlife, including animated turtles, jellyfish, swimming fish, a rocking ray and swaying kelp. While a 9-foot-long submarine rocked back and forth at the rear of the float, an octopus at the front glided 13 feet high while waving its tentacles toward the massive audience. It is the seventh time in 72 appearances that a Cal Poly float has featured an ocean-related design — this year celebrating the parade’s theme, “The Power of Hope.”
Over 20 Volunteer Farm Ambassadors donated their time to spread the message of California Grown Flowers in advance of the parade during “Deco Week,” handing out over 10,000 stickers during their conversations.
The numbers don’t lie. Origin matters and more folks than ever are receiving the message and learning about the movement!