OFA Bulletin July/August 2010 : Page 3

July/August 2010 • Numb e r 9 2 2 come here, work, and return home by providing a way for workers who are already here, trained, and valuable members of our work force and our communities to come forward, pay penalties, and work toward becoming documented, helping to increase border and identification security. Your visible support is needed on this issue. Plants for Planting Creating a positive interpretation of the designation of “Plants for Planting” continues to be an important subject for growers and for the ornamentals market. USDA continues to move forward to modify the “Quarantine 37” regulations, which govern how plant material, including seeds, can enter the United States. The phrase “plants for planting” simply means plants that are intended to live on somewhere – in your end customers’ backyard, deck, or garden. It is plant material that will not be discarded but will become part of the “l The import of plant material is seen as a pathway for introducing invasive p like kudzu, which is basically uncontrollable and has become such a problem throughout the Deep South. The import of plant material is also seen by some as a pathway for bringing in new insects or plant disease SAF and ANLA, with the support of par such as OFA have worked with USDA a other forums for years to try to find reasonable ways of allowing trade to flourish while protecting U.S. agriculture and our environment from unwanted hitchhikers. So in addition to keeping your own growing operation clean and well-scouted, it is important for growers to be aware of this trend and its implications. One approach that is widely viewed as helpful is the “systems approach,” which builds on the food industry’s model of hazard control. Essentially, it implements a series of safeguards along the pathway – clean beginning stock, insect control, worker sanitation, scouting, clean irrigation water, and so on – so that a potential problem is more likely to be stopped with a multi-faceted system than by any single safeguard. Most of the vegetative propagators of plant material already have implemented this kind of approach. Many domestic growers implement it to one degree or another as well – whether formally or informally. A systems approach will not be the only answer to problems of invasives, but it is increasingly becoming a larger part of the overall picture, and growers need to continue to be informed as this topic moves along. Health Care Far more than enough has already been written about the new health care bill – yet most people agree that they don’t have enough information about its various provisions, what business owners will or will not be required to do, and how it might impact them. Go to www.safnow.org for a good, brief summary of the provisions of the new law. Financial Reform As this article is written, the Senate has just finished passing the financial overhaul bill, aimed primarily at preventing another financial crisis by improving and increasing regulation O F A B u l l e t i n of the banking industry. That bill contains other provisions that will impact businesses, including a “Consumer Product Protection Bureau.” The bill also includes, of course, provisions that are intended to improve the credit market. Businesses, and especially agriculture businesses, have seen credit literally dry up, with banks increasingly unable or unwilling to make operating or capital loans. USDA loans, never easy, have become even more difficult. Even Farm Credit lending has become problematic. Some of the industry’s most stable members are being impacted by credit difficulties, and this issue needs to be brought to the forefront of discussion and then quickly addressed. Estate Tax Reform Negations continue in the Senate to reach a compromise on reforming the estate tax. A solution is necessary because the ally zero in 2010 but will revert to a rcent top rate and $1 million per person mption in 2011 if Congress fails to act. usiness assets needed for expansion and stability are quickly eaten up with estate planning costs or, worse, the tax itself – so this issue continues to be crucial for businesses. Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) are backing a compromise that would set a top rate of ercent and an exemption of $5 million, indexed for inflation. SAF, as a member of the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition, strongly supports that approach. Perhaps by the time you read this, the Senate will have acted. But it remains important for you to contact your elected representatives with your own business story and to indicate support of the Lincoln-Kyl approach. And Hundreds More Issues As you well know, there are many, many ways in which Washington can impact your business and your future. Estate tax reform, climate change legislation, changes in worker safety rules, environmental protection, pesticide regulation, and quite a few more topics come to mind. Business owners must, unfortunately, stay aware of those issues, and communicate real-world concerns to the often-unworldly decision makers in Washington. Pictures are usually worth far more than a thousand words – inviting a lawmaker to visit your business is extremely helpful in creating more understanding of how businesses operate and creating channels of ongoing communication. Getting your information from reliable sources is increasingly important. And, of course, staying in touch with your trade associations – SAF, ANLA, OFA, and others – makes your voice louder, clearer, and more effective. Moving forward is, despite the naysayers, a real possibility! Lin Schmale Society of American Florists 1601 Duke Street Alexandria, VA 22314 703-836-8700 LSchmale@safnow.org 3

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