Certified American Grown – A Year in Review 2022

2022 has been a phenomenal year of activity, progress, and success for Certified American Grown! The work that we do centers on 2 pillars – serving as the only advocacy organization focused on the US cut flower and foliage community and promoting the great work that is happening on our farms throughout the country to bring greater support for our American floral and foliage growing community.  Please spend a few minutes while we highlight just some of the great things that have been happening over the course of the last year. Of course, there has been more when we factor in all that continues to be done on our local farms, in our communities, and in collaboration with you, our members, but we don’t have all day… let’s enjoy a few highlights together.

 

February Washington DC Fly In

As your advocate, CAG works hard with our Government Affairs representative, Jumana Madanat Misleh, to maintain an ongoing presence in the nation’s capitol to work on your behalf day in and day out, however it is always important to couple this work with that of the direct voices of members of our farming community. The pandemic continued to provide a bit of a wrinkle, but we overcame and held our annual Fly In anyway, but it looked a little different this year. We held a series of informational zoom calls on such things as labor and immigration, national ag statistics work for flowers and foliage, and trade, but we then transitioned to a combination of in person and virtual meetings with Senators, representatives, staff in Congress, leaders at USDA and the White House.  The message is always support American flowers and foliage first and then we talk about the issues you all face and what we need to do to make your farming and financial viability strong for years to come!

We complement this work with ongoing meetings and discussions throughout the year and look forward to 2023 being back in person in DC and to making great strides on our priority areas of work, including, but not limited to: the 2023 Farm Bill, insurance access, accurate reporting of industry statistics, and accessing needed support and assistance, when needed. Look out for more to come soon!

 

Country of Origin Labeling 

Ongoing conversations critical to supporting American flowers and foliage for consumers to understand where their products are coming from. US Customs and Border Protection has had regulation on the books to ensure proper labelling of products sold at retail so consumers could decide when making their purchases.  It wasn’t until CAG rolled up our sleeves and began working with CBP that this regulation began being enforced and now in markets and retail establishments you can (and should) see where your purchases are coming from.  This work is newer in implementation and has made a difference quickly, however we continue to support the expansion of the inspection for labels at all ports of entry and to ensure that USCBP has the tools and resources needed for success.  Ongoing discussions with their leadership and CAG leaders highlight the desire and ability to continue to grow and progress the program. Keep on the lookout for labels when you’re out shopping (and in case something has slipped through the cracks, please make sure to report it). We thank the CBP team for their commitment and collaboration and look forward to continued success together!

 

The American Grown Act

The AGA has long been a focal point of energy for CAG, and we cannot relent on the work that we feel is symbolic, critical, and, quite simply, the right thing to do – ensure that the White House and other governmental departments are supporting American floral and foliage farms by sourcing and displaying our products proudly.  Doesn’t that sound simple?  It really should be, but in this case, it is truly taking an “Act of Congress” to implement.  In 2022, we were saddened by the passing of Congressman Don Young (Alaska) who was one of the AGA’s biggest champions and authored and promoted the bill all along the way. In his honor Congressman Salud Carbajal (California) did the right thing and honored Mr. Young by renaming the AGA for him and inserting it into a piece of legislation on defense.  The House of Representative unanimously passed the bill, but in the Senate, the bill did not face the same benefit and was not included in the companion defense bill there.  The AGA has made it further than before and thanks to our advocacy efforts, we have made new contacts with the White House Buy America program and will continue to seek support for all of you through this bill!

 

NASS Floriculture Report all 50 States

As we mentioned, CAG work on your behalf extends beyond the halls of the Capitol and reaches into the agencies and departments that impact your businesses.  CAG has had a long-standing relationship with the USDA National Ag Statistics Service (NASS), and it is through this relationship and advocacy that CAG was pleased to see that for the first time ever, NASS released the annual Floriculture Report that included all 50 states.  It is imperative to your strategic business decisions that you have data and knowledge of the state of the domestic production as a component to evaluating the overall industry.  There is still more work to do, but this step to survey and report for everyone is in the right direction and we will continue to work to ensure your access to data and information that is accurate and efficient.  Please remember to take the time to complete the survey when it comes out!

 

Farmer Forum Started

Connecting and Building the American grown community for learnings and sharing together is critical for the work we do as an association. To help build, share and learn together, CAG has launched a series of Farmer Forums, virtual discussions highlighting some of our farm members and creating a space for other farms throughout the country to meet and connect together. This year, we have been happy to feature Lane Devries of Sun Valley in California and David Register of Fern Trust in Florida.  Our moderator for these sessions has been Ko Klaver.  We look forward to hosting more of these in the months and year to come.

 

Growing our Digital Presence (IG 17.9-18.7) (FB 12.9 – 13.3)

How do we increase awareness of American grown farms? One of the many ways is to create and foster the digital presence through social media.  This is a way for our community to communicate, support each other, and to also interact with influencers and consumers.  The more we can engage and support each other, the better we can all be about building our momentum.  2022 has been a great year of growth and we have seen almost 1,000 new followers on Instagram and about 500 new Facebook followers.  This growth will continue, and we hope you will join us to liking, sharing, tagging and celebrating together.  Remember to always tag @americangrownflowers and we can help expand your reach! Also, make sure to join our group on Facebook and let’s share together!

 

New Members – 11 Farms

Any association is stronger when the community is bigger and speaking with a unified voice. So too is Certified American Grown and we are honored to have seen growth with 11 new farm members in new parts of the country this year, further increasing our numbers and diversifying where we represent.  There is still work to be done, however.  CAG has begun reaching out to more and more farms and potential members throughout the country and while we invite every American farm to become a member, it is always more powerful when you, our members, invite and advocate for joining.  Please take a few minutes to invite your friends, neighbors, and colleagues to join the movement and it will help leverage your investment and voice with that of so many others to be even more powerful, together.

 

New Membership Category Launched

To continually be more inclusive and represent the entire US floral and foliage community, CAG has taken steps to introduce new accessible membership categories, allowing for farms of all sizes, in all locations across the US, and in any business model to be able to have an access point for joining the organization.  Now, there are categories for membership for farms who seek certification, general membership categories, and a streamlined associate member category for businesses that support our industry and community. It has worked and we look forward to continued growth and opportunity to welcome more farms to the American Grown movement. Again, please invite anyone you know or do business with to join the movement!

 

Field to Vase Dinners Re-launched In Person

A hallmark of Certified American Grown, the Field to Vase dinner tour invites the industry, floral and foliage fans, policy makers, media and others to experience and visit farms firsthand for a unique immersive experience in fields or greenhouses, coupled with highly recognized designers working their magic to bring these events to life! In 2022, we have been honored to have dinner events at: The Flower Fields (California), Ocean Breeze Farms (California), Summer Dreams Farm (Michigan), and Arnosky Family Farms (Texas).  The 2023 series is being launched and finalized including stops in Florida, California, Alaska, and Virginia, so far.  Check out www.americangrownflowers.org for more!

 

Celebrating American Grown Flowers & Foliage Month

July is the annual celebration of American independence, and it is only fitting that we celebrate the domestic Flower and Foliage community at the same time! We have been honored that annually both houses of Congress mark the celebration with the introduction of resolutions to celebrate the month.  We have been honored that farms throughout the country and select retailers also implement activities, events, and special promotions to celebrate the month.  Events this year included special bouquets and arrangements, highlights of farms and our community, special workshops and events, and much more. Additionally, one of the industry’s leading magazine Florists’ Review published an American edition with a 10-page spread highlighting our farms and the Best in Bloom contest where designers created beautiful arrangements using only American grown flowers and foliage. We appreciate everyone’s support and look forward to celebrating again in 2023!

 

The Sylvia Cup Floral Design Competition

CAG has become the annual sponsor for the Sylvia Cup competition held annually by PFCI during the annual SAF Convention.  As the sponsor, designers from around the country have the unique opportunity to showcase their talents and work with American only flowers and foliage.  This unique competition is highly regarded and is a wonderful opportunity to have designers work with what you have worked hard to grow, but even more so, is a chance to share the beauty that can be developed and designed with specifically American grown products!

 

AIFD, FTD and the America’s Cup Competition

This year, CAG was able to work with FTD to help sponsor the America’s Cup competition during the AIFD Symposium in Las Vegas.  Providing that 2 of the 3 design elements were focusing only on American Grown flowers and foliage, coupled with recognition from the microphone, signage, sales sheets, etc. designers in the competition and from throughout the world were able to showcase and experience the gorgeous products grown on your farms.  CAG continually looks at opportunities such as this for the elevation of recognition for your farms and for the broader domestic community.  This year, we congratulate Jenny Thommason for winning the competition and moving on to the World Cup next year in the United Kingdom.

 

Homer Peony Festival

American flower farms are regularly collaborating and hosting events to highlight their local work and community collaborations.  The Homer Peony Festival is no different.  Held in July this past year, as is tradition, the festival brings the town of Homer, Alaska, to life with the brilliance of peonies.  This celebration coincides with American Grown Flower and Foliage Month and is quickly gaining recognition and traction for this wonderful event.  Looking to 2023, more events are being added to this very special festival.

 

First Lady’s Luncheon, hosted by The Congressional Club

The annual First Lady’s Luncheon is a bi-partisan celebration and annual fundraiser that CAG has become the sole floral and foliage sponsor of.  Honoring the First Lady, the annual event in Washington, DC is supported by CAG as a way of connecting and collaborating with policy makers and their spouses to support our policy agenda. This is the 6th year that farms have contributed, and CAG has sponsored what has become a hallmark of our positioning and celebrations.

 

Global Produce and Floral Show

CAG was excited this past October to receive a WUSATA grant that allowed for the build out and display of an American grown pavilion highlighting 6 of our member farms who decided to join in the pavilion.  Placement at the entrance meant that most attendees to the tradeshow which is the largest domestic show for the mass market, saw Certified American Grown from the moment thy walked in.  The host organization, IFPA, names the annual floral Marketer of the Year and this year, we are so honored that CAG member, Lane Devries, was given this great award – Congrats! The 2023 Show will be held in Anaheim, California and we look forward to having another wildly successful event.

 

As you can see, the above is just a few of the countless work we are doing on your behalf. Couple this with visiting farms from throughout the country, daily interactions with members, leaders, policy makers, promoters, supporters and others and we keep ourselves lively and busy for you.  AS always, we thank you for your generosity and support of our work, ask that you continue to be a part of the American Grown movement, and invite others to join us and let’s all make 2023 the best year ever for Certified American Grown!

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