May 2, 2024
Recap of SAF’s Congressional fly-in event

Floral professionals ask Congress for key measures to help the industry on March 19, 2024, during its first 2024 fly-in event.

Thirteen floral retailers, wholesalers, growers and importers convened on Capitol Hill for the Society of American Florists’ (SAF) first congressional fly-in of 2024. Led by SAF senior lobbyist Joe Bischoff,  and associate Macey Hammerstrom, the group advocated for legislative actions that could provide more affordable access to cut flowers, improve crop insurance for flower farms, and fund research to improve flower and plant quality and production.

During the event, attendees visited with 11 congressional offices, including those of Senator Marco Rubio and Representatives Marcy Kaptur, Adrian Smith, Dan Kildee, Mario Diaz-Balart, Gwen Moore, Henry Cuellar, Lori Chavez-DeRemer, Andreas Salinas, Scott Franklin and John Carter.

“There’s nothing like hearing constituents tell their stories,” said Bischoff. “It’s one thing to hear from me, but when they hear directly from an industry member, they can really make that connection between the work that’s happening in floriculture and the people doing it.”

Society of American Florists’ (SAF) first congressional fly-in of 2024Attendees focused on lobbying for three floral industry priorities:
  • Reauthorization of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP): Aimed at reinstating duty-free imports from economically developed countries and easing financial burdens exacerbated by the lapse of GSP authorization in December 2020.
  • Establishing a National Crop Insurance Program through the USDA’s Risk Management Agency for outdoor cut flower production, to help farmers protect their business from increasing risks due to extreme weather and wildfires.
  • Increased Funding for Floriculture & Nursery Research Initiative (FNRI): SAF is seeking an additional $1 million to support research efforts in mechanization, pest and disease management, post-harvest optimization, and production efficiencies.

Reflecting on the day of meetings, Lottie McKinnon of Teleflora emphasized the receptiveness of legislative aides “It was awesome,” she said. “[The aide] was very engaged and interested in what we had to say … and definitely seemed like he wanted to help.”

Andrea Grist, of Florasource KC in Overland Park, Kansas, said she was struck by “just seeing the whole process and how (Congress) works, behind the scenes.”

Bischoff said the facetime with the industry will help him continue to make a case for our issues. “These conversations go a long way toward helping them really understand why these issues are so important to our industry’s businesses,” he said. “It really helps strengthen our case.”

The fly-in marks the first of several similar events slated for the year as part of SAF’s 2024 advocacy strategy.

Interested in being a part of SAF’s advocacy work? Contact SAF’s projects and advocacy specialist, Lillie Wightman. See event photos here.
Photo courtesy of SAF.

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