“Groups working together can make a difference.”
That was a major takeaway for Jamie Kitz, key account manager with Sakata Ornamentals in Salinas, California, who represented her company and the floral industry at two key meetings last month in Washington, D.C.
Kitz, a member of the Society of American Florists’ Growers Council, represented SAF at an annual meeting with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). There, alongside SAF staff and representatives of AmericanHort, the group discussed high-priority industry issues, including offshore certification programs, Q-37 modernization, Farm Bill Section 10007 research funding, and the potential impact on the industry of any changes to NAFTA.
“The meeting provided a unique opportunity to share directly with the APHIS staff concerns and policy issues that directly affect our business, progress and our industry,” Kitz explained. “It is both encouraging and a good perspective to hear and understand directly from the APHIS staff, their commitment to our industry and the progress they have made the past year on specific issues. It is important to keep the dialogue going.”
Kevin Shea, administrator of APHIS, was present throughout the meeting, signaling the importance the agency assigns to the discussion, noted SAF COO Drew Gruenburg.
APHIS is a multi-faceted agency with a broad mission. Its work to safeguard American agriculture connects it with many diverse industry groups that represent producers across the nation. APHIS also facilitates trade in floral and nursery products, and as such has an enormous impact on the floral and nursery industry.
Commodity sector meetings, as they are called by APHIS, are an important part of APHIS’ annual planning process, and feedback from those meetings is incorporated back into APHIS plant and animal health programs.
On the same day, Kitz also represented SAF at a Senate Agriculture Committee meeting to discuss industry issues. Representatives from AmericanHort, the American Seed Trade Association, along with Matt Kramer, director of research at Ball Horticulture in West Chicago, Illinois, also attended that meeting.
“The organizations representation combined with firsthand industry situations from myself and Matt makes for an impactful message,” Kitz said. “Lobbying gives us that distinct privilege to not only raise the issues, but also help find ways to resolve them.”
The experience has left Kitz ready for more advocacy in 2018, Kitz added.
“I am energized to participate in lobbying efforts for Sakata and our industry,” she said. “We can ignite change.”
Ready to do your part and ensure your story is heard in Washington, D.C. Make plans to attend SAF’s Annual Congressional Action Days, March 12-13 in Washington, D.C.