OFA Bulletin July/August 2011 : Page 2

OFA Mission Statement To support and advance professional horticulture. OFA – The Association of Horticulture Professionals 2130 Stella Court Columbus, Ohio 43215-1033 USA 614-487-1117 Fax: 614-487-1216 ofa@ofa.org www.ofa.org Forum Capitol Notes he 112 th Congress was swept in on a wave of anxious voter dissatisfaction with the direction of the nation. Republicans control the House of Representatives by a 241-193 margin, while the Democrats lost seats but managed to retain control of the Senate 53-47. House rules favor the majority pushing its legislative agenda; the Senate is likely to become the graveyard for many House initiatives. After all, in the Senate, it takes 60 votes to guarantee passage of legislation. Nothing will pass there unless it is reasonably bipartisan. The new House Republican majority was quick to focus on what I have termed “the three Os”: Obamacare, Overreach, and Overspending. Shortly after being sworn in, the House moved a symbolic bill that would repeal President Obama’s signature initiative from the last Congress, the health care overhaul bill. The repeal vote was largely symbolic, but more targeted change has already started, with the repeal of the dreaded form 1099 reporting mandate. ANLA and our national green industry grassroots network were fully mobilized to support the 1099 repeal. Beyond that, the future of the health care bill is really in the hands of the courts. On “overreach,” a number of Republican chairmen have held hearings focusing on the regulatory excesses of the Obama administration. Sweeping change is unlikely here too, in that liberal groups are turning to the administrative agencies as the last and only place they might be able to achieve anything. The federal budget – and the role of government in our lives – has now taken center stage. Sharp differences over spending nearly led to a government shutdown in early April. A last-minute deal was reached to fund the government through September 30, but two more big budget battles loom – a vote on raising the federal debt ceiling and work on the 2012 federal budget. T by Craig Regelbrugge OFA Bulletin July/August 2011 NUMBER 928 Editorial Staff Editor Stephen A. Carver, Ph.D. Laura Kunkle Contributors Bridget K. Behe Christine Casey Raymond Cloyd Graeme Murphy Jim Rearden Craig Regelbrugge Stefan Reiner Daria Snyder John Stanley Susan Sutliff Shipley Published Bimonthly Copyright © OFA 2011. 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 2011, Number 928.” 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. This is tricky stuff, politically. Both parties know spending must be curbed; they differ on how, how much, and how soon. Most are less willing to get serious about the need to address the budgetary “big elephants” like defense and entitlements. Much more time has been so far devoted to debates over the “small gerbil” of discretionary spending. Yet, you can’t significantly alter federal spending without everything being on the table. Against this backdrop, where are we on issues of special concern to the green industry? With regard to federal spending, the good news is that the green industry operates pretty much in the free market. We are not a “program crop” beholden unto the federal government for price supports. That said, the federal government is still a force in creating the environment for our success. Protection (as in, from invasive plant pests that affect production and markets) and research and development are two areas where the federal government has long been a strategic partner. So in the quest to reduce government spending and/or find new revenues, we may see an assault on funding for certain USDA pest and research initiatives that are important to the industry. Plus, in an environment where few will want “credit” for raising taxes, it will be easier to eliminate deductions or other practices perceived as tax loopholes, such as the use of cash accounting, which is a widespread practice in the nursery and greenhouse industry. Immigration reform is a huge issue for the industry that urgently needs thoughtful Congressional leadership. “Thoughtful” and “leadership” are not among the top 10 words most associated with Congress, however. Here’s the problem: an estimated 70 percent of hired farm, nursery, and greenhouse workers lack proper immigration status. Even in the down economy, few US workers have turned to farm work. And H-2A, the only legal OFA Bulletin 2

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