By attending CAD, you will see and hear vital information regarding the floral industry and so much more first hand. To receive first-hand information is priceless — you cannot continue to assume that changes are going to be made without getting involved. Our voices must be heard, and I feel that they are now listening! JOIN US and let’s keep our industry alive.
If you’re a lobbying novice, anxious to voice your concerns on Capitol Hill, keep this in mind: every returning participant at the Society of American Florists’ Congressional Action Days — held this year on March 11-12 — was once a first-time attendee.
The reason they keep coming back? They discovered their presence makes a valuable difference in steering legislators toward policies favorable to the industry. While there are many ways to influence the legislative process, joining a group to deliver your message directly to Congressional members in Washington, D.C., is one of the best. It shows how much you care about the issues and, more important, why they should care.
Irving Casiano Flores of Flower Shop Network in Paragould, Arkansas, a first-time CAD participant last year, eagerly anticipates his second experience and encourages those on the fence to consider SAF’s official theme for CAD 2019: “Make YOUR business the Hill’s business.”
“By sharing ideas and proposals to Congress, we are able to take our industry to new heights,” he said.
Lawmakers and their staffs do not understand the ramifications of tariffs, policy decisions or budget votes unless you educate them, he said. Because of SAF members’ dedication and consistent message during last year’s event, Congress voted to increase funding for the Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative by $1 million.
“All major breakthroughs in Floriculture and Nursery Research will open new opportunities to everyone in the floral industry,” Flores said. “If growers, distributors, wholesalers, and retail florists grow, then technology companies such as Flower Shop Network will grow. Every achievement is a step towards success.”
“If you have the opportunity to come to CAD, you must,” Flores continued. “Make your voices heard and show up every year.”
There’s no need to have butterflies. SAF’s government relations team will prepare all attendees with an educational session to brief them on the issues (summarized in a convenient handout) and provide them with advocacy training. Then, over lunch and other breaks, you can strategize with others from your state or region before the next day’s appointments on Capitol Hill.
Brian Kusuda of Jimmy’s Flowers in Ogden, Utah, who attended his first CAD last year, encountered representatives and aides who were eager to learn more about him and his shop. “I didn’t really know what to expect,” he said. “With little experience in politics, I was pleasantly surprised how interested the representatives were with the issues and topics that were important to me as a small business.”
To encourage first timers to get their feet wet at the 39th annual Congressional Action Days, March 11-12, SAF is offering free registration for a second person from your company who has never attended before. This offer is not available online. To take advantage of it, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To register for CAD and to learn more details, click here.
Christy O’Farrell is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.