SAF’s 37th Annual Congressional Action Days, March 13-14, comes at a time when many high profile issues are up for review by Congress and the Trump Administration, including the nation’s immigration system and tax policies, two issues SAF members will focus on during this year’s event.
“The act of coming to Washington and sharing the story of your business is always meaningful, but this year, it’s more important than ever to have those personal, real-world examples of how policies and laws affect business owners,” said Shawn McBurney, SAF’s senior director of government relations. “Legislators and their staff are working right now on legislation that will have a direct effect on industry businesses. They need to hear from us.”
McBurney said SAF is currently finalizing issue briefs on its three core issues for CAD: immigration, tax reform, and funding for The Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative. CAD participants will receive detailed briefings on these issues, along with clear talking points and defined “asks” for each congressional office they visit.
Among the points SAF members will likely make:
- Immigration reform. This issue has become a polarizing topic in many corners of Capitol Hill, but “the truth is, 70 to 80 percent of agriculture workers are estimated to be undocumented,” McBurney said. “We can’t just send away 80 percent of our workers.” CAD participants will participate in discussions and receive talking points related to E-Verify and visa programs.
- Tax Reform. “In addition to simplifying the tax code and reducing rates, a key component of the House Republican tax plan is to include ‘border adjustment’ provisions as part of the reform,” McBurney explained. “As envisioned by the House plan, border adjustment would remove the deductibility of the cost of goods sold on imported items but allow the deductibility of the cost of goods sold on domestically-produced goods.” CAD participants will have the opportunity to explain the industry’s current supply chain to help lawmakers better understand the floral industry, and how reform efforts could help or hurt businesses.
- The Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative. FNRI was designed to obtain and guide federal research funding targeted to the needs of the floriculture and nursery industry. The Initiative is currently a $4.6 million program with half of the dollars going to floriculture projects and half going to nursery projects. CAD attendees will be working to educate lawmakers and staff about FNRI and advocating for funding.
“Our goal is to ensure that every person who attends CAD — especially someone who is joining us for the first time — feels confident and supported when they go for their visits on Capitol Hill,” said McBurney, noting that a great deal of research and strategy goes into preparing the issue briefings and issue talking points for SAF members. “Ultimately, however, the best tool we have are our collective stories — being able to tell a staff member or member of Congress, ‘Look, this is an issue that matters to my business and my family, and it’s one that affects me in these specific ways.’”
In addition to congressional meetings, CAD attendees will have the chance to learn about the inner workings of the Beltway firsthand from Washington insiders, including political analyst Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post and MSNBC, as well as Stephanie Vance of Advocacy Associates, who will prep participants with tips on how to make a real impact on office visits.
This year’s event also includes a visit to the International Spy Museum and the annual SAFPAC fundraising reception and dinner, headlined by Andrew Och, author of “The First Ladies Man.”
Register for CAD and get more information on the event.