OFA Bulletin July/August 2013 : Page 2

OFA MissiOn sTATEMEnT To support and advance professional horticulture. OFA – ThE AssOciATiOn OF hOrTiculTurE PrOFEssiOnAls Forum tHe power of aSSociation By Michael V. Geary, CAE 2130 Stella Court, Columbus, Ohio 43215-1033 USA Phone: 614-487-1117 Fax: 614-487-1216 ofa@ofa.org • www.ofa.org OFA BullETin July/August 2013 • NUMBER 940 EdiTOriAl sTAFF Scott Leyshon, Editor Stephen A. Carver, Ph.D. Laura Kunkle cOnTriBuTOrs Bridget Behe Bernie Erven Michael V. Geary Alan Hodges David Kuack Craig J. Regelbrugge Jeffrey Scott Chengyan Yue Diane M. Blazek Paul Fisher Charlie Hall Brian A. Krug Gregory Orofino Alicia Rihn Bill Swanekamp The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) reports that one in every three Americans is a part of our nation’s association and nonprofit industry. Whether as an individual member, an employee of a member company, a volunteer, or donor, at the center of organizations are people whose expertise and hard work collectively create a stronger America and world. ASAE says, “Associations and nonprofits tap the power of millions—those who are most knowledgeable and passionate about industries, professions, and ideas. In virtually every business sector and industry, across the country, state to state, associations mobilize millions to turn change into progress one step at a time.” That’s the power of associations. In our corner of the world, one of the primary reasons that OFA and the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) are combining resources is to increase the strength of our industry’s influence. Recently, the U.S. Senate concluded its responsibility to move the country forward on two important issues to our industry: immigration reform and the Farm Bill. The Senate passed, by a wide majority, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (aka the “Farm Bill”) and S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. They didn’t reach these accomplishments without the direct involvement of our Washington, DC-based lobbying staff, engaged members, and from the power of the coalitions of like-minded organizations. FARM BILL by identifying and registering visitors in the country and better monitoring who comes and goes. It will strengthen the economy by creating a 21st Century immigration system to allow the U.S. to sustain its vitality and compete in a global economy. OFA and ANLA strongly support the bill. From a nursery, landscape, greenhouse, and garden retail perspective, the most notable provisions include: • The agricultural reform package, which will benefit nursery, greenhouse, and Christmas tree growers and workers. Reforms include an agriculture-specific earned legalization program, and a new, market-based and flexible future agriculture worker visa program that will eventually replace the widely criticized H-2A program; • Improvements to the H-2B program, which is critical to many landscape and distribution companies. Key reforms include a multi-year extension of the “returning worker exemption” (an expired “good idea” provision that allows more H-2B seasonal visa workers based on need); and, a fair resolution for establishing H-2B program wages; and • A new “W visa” program that will allow employers to hire foreign workers on three-year visas for non-agricultural jobs. While the initial W visa cap is low, the allowed number of visas will ultimately rise or fall based on the strength of the economy. Through several coalitions (one led by ANLA), associations joined together to find common ground on complex and controversial solutions. It was not just the paid lobbyist of our associations that made this happen. It took in-person visits, phone calls, and emails to Congressional offices from our organizations’ members in order for legislators to finally take notice that we needed them to take action to help solve some of our industry’s problems. While we have professional staff in Columbus and Washington to work daily on our issues, the power of associations really comes from our members. With our connection to state associations in the Lighthouse Program, this grassroots network is now more than 14,000 people strong. This is an impressive number of people that can help affect legislation in our nation’s capital. Industry associations do much more than put on educational conferences and trade shows. It is our ability to engage our members in legislative and regulatory shAring yOur knOwlEdgE if you would like to submit an article for consideration for the OFA Bulletin , please contact scott leyshon to learn about content guidelines and submission requirements. scott may be contacted at sleyshon@ofa.org or 614-487-1117. Published Bimonthly Copyright OFA 2013. Permission is hereby given to reprint articles appearing in this OFA Bulletin provided the following reference statement appears with the reprinted article: “Reprinted from the OFA Bulletin, (phone: 614-487-1117) July/August 2013, Number 940.” No endorsement is intended for products mentioned in this OFA Bulletin, nor is criticism meant for products not mentioned. The authors and OFA assume no liability resulting from the use of practices printed in this OFA Bulletin. The Senate’s Farm Bill contains specialty crop provisions that support things like crop research, pest and disease management strategies, and crop marketing efforts. These provisions include Specialty Crop Block Grants (SCBG), Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), and the newly created Coordinated Plant Management Program. Our national partners and state associations joined ANLA and OFA in encouraging the Senators to pass this bill, and to support the specialty crop programs contained within. Along with 120 other members of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, we brought the power of our associations to Washington, DC and found success. IMMIGRATION For too long, Congress has deferred action on a broad and meaningful overhaul of America’s immigration system. As a result, our economy and security have suffered. S.744 will improve security 2

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