The House Appropriations Committee has recommended allotting $500,000 to a key floral industry research fund — doubling the amount that Society of American Florists members lobbied for during Congressional Action Days.
Members of the Committee wrote that their recommendation would allow the Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative (FNRI) “to expand research capacity.”
“The Committee values the importance of the floral and horticulture industry as floral and nursery crops are the third-largest domestic crop in value,” reads the report. “The FNRI is focused on addressing and solving the industry’s challenges and needs.”
The robust message of support is a direct result of SAF member engagement on the issue, said SAF Chief Operating Officer Drew Gruenburg, who noted that during and after Congressional Action Days, floral industry members worked hard to educate lawmakers on the valuable role FNRI plays in industry research, and the importance of the floral industry to the overall U.S. economy. The message took hold: The $500,000 represent a nearly 11 percent increase to the FNRI budget at a time when the president’s proposed budget called for agriculture research funding to be cut by about 20 percent. (The House later reduced that cut to about 3 percent.)
The money isn’t secure yet — the recommendation will have to be approved by the Senate, but Gruenburg said the powerful recommendation is worth a celebration in its own right.
“This is really big news: We have it in writing that Congress values the industry,” he explained. “It shows the power of constituent involvement.”
FNRI is a partnership among the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the floriculture and nursery industry, including SAF and AmericanHort, and the academic community. For two decades, funding through FNRI has included methods to address pest and disease management, improve flower longevity and quality and reduce pesticide use, among many other areas.