The powerful Senate Appropriations Committee has signaled its support for two core issues backed by the Society of American Florists: increased funding — and an expanded reach — for the Floriculture Crops Report and stable funding levels for the Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative (FNRI).
The Floriculture Crops Report provides one of the most comprehensive overviews of the floral industry, giving professionals in all segments insights into production trends and allowing them to better plan for the future. FNRI supports research in crop protection, breeding, mechanization and other areas. SAF members have lobbied Congress for support on both issues.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2020 Agriculture Appropriations Bill on Sept 19.
“The Senate bill contains language specific to the floral industry, including a recommended $500,000 increase for USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service to complete the Floriculture Crops Report and to include Alaska in its overview — an addition this year that reflects SAF member input and one that will help ensure a more comprehensive final report,” said Drew Gruenburg, SAF’s chief operating officer. “The committee’s language also emphasizes the economic importance of the floriculture and nursery sector and the industry’s need for continued innovation while committing to funding levels on par with 2019 for FNRI. These are both significant, positive signs for the industry.”
The House Appropriations Committee approved their 2020 Agriculture Appropriations Bill earlier this year. That bill maintains funding for USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and directs USDA to complete the Commercial Floriculture Crops Report. While the House committee bill does not include additional funding for the Floriculture Crops Report, it does maintain funding for FNRI at the 2019 level.
What happens next? After a congressional conference committee resolves differences between the House and Senate versions of the 2020 Appropriations Bills, each chamber must vote again to approve the final version. Once each chamber approves the bill, the legislation goes to the president.
This year, the path is more muddied, with impeachment proceedings of the president and ongoing budget negotiations occupying Congress: Last week, President Trump signed a continuing resolution that extends government funding at current levels through November 21, 2019.
SAF will continue to monitor the bills’ progress and update its members.
Mary Westbrook is the editor in chief of Floral Management.