When President Trump addressed Congress and the nation during his first State of the Union since the GOP lost the House to Democrats, he spoke of the need for unity, but his speech also highlighted entrenched divides between the two parties.
Still, according to Shawn McBurney, the Society of American Florists’ senior director of government relations, there were at least three takeaways for floral industry members listening last night to the annual address, related to immigration, trade and tariff negotiations.
“It’s very difficult — and probably not wise — to try to predict too much in the future from a State of the Union address, but we did get insight into this administration’s continued priorities last night, and some of those issues certainly affect the industry,” McBurney said.
Immigration remains a hot — and divisive — topic. President Trump returned several times in his speech to the need for immigration reform, including his desire for a border wall. “The complicated issue is one that affects many floral industry members, and the State of the Union underscored that it will continue to be a flashpoint in the country and between the two parties,” McBurney said.
President Trump continues to prioritize trade reforms. “President Trump came into office promising new trade policies, and in his address last night he asked specifically for the support of lawmakers in passing the new agreement among the United States, Mexico and Canada, known as USMCA, into law,” McBurney said. SAF, he added, has advocated for a “do no harm” approach to USMCA regulations governing movement of floral products across borders.
Tariffs are a topic of ongoing conversation — and some concern. The president asked lawmakers to approve the U.S. Reciprocal Trade Act, which would allow the administration to impose tariffs on products “if the president determines” that tariff or non-tariff barriers on that product are higher than those of the United States. The president’s call for more authority in this area comes as lawmakers are trying to limit his trade powers, noted McBurney, adding that “the reciprocal tariff authority would bring additional uncertainty with the United States’ trading partners.”
With a new Congress in session, there’s never been a better time to make your voice heard in Congress. Join your fellow floral industry members March 11-12 in Washington, D.C., at SAF’s Congressional Action Days, where you’ll have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with lawmakers and key staff to share your story and make the best case for the future of your business and the industry. Register today.
Read one florist’s take on why CAD is such an important event — and why you should make plans to attend.
Drew Gruenburg is the chief operating officer of the Society of American Florists.