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FNGLA is Vested in the Industry and Vice Versa

Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Article by: Greenline

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Summer is just about here and temperatures are already on the rise.  Along with the higher temperatures, we are experiencing drier than normal conditions around the state.  These dry conditions are contributing to wild fires throughout Florida. Thousands of acres have been burned along with some homes and businesses. I heard of one nursery which sustained quite a bit of damage in the Naples area and one small nursery which was destroyed in Apopka. 

Hopefully, we will get some much needed help with rain in the upcoming weeks to help combat these fires. These dry conditions are also causing landscapes around our state to show signs of stress. This is a very important time to ensure irrigation is used wisely and efficiently to keep lawns and plants from drying out.

In case you had not heard, FNGLA partnered with the new television program Flip My Florida Yard to educate the public on water efficiency and promote our industry to the consumer. I have already watched three of the four episodes and couldn’t be happier with the shows. Flip My Florida Yard stresses the importance of efficient irrigation and using the right plants in the right places. Every commercial slot has information showcasing FNGLA, Fresh From Florida or UF/IFAS giving homeowners useful tips or websites offering useful information on how to properly take care of their landscapes. Saving water is one of the most important issues facing our industry today.

There are other important events happening during the upcoming months which I also wish to mention. The Florida Flower Trials takes place on May 18 & 19 in Central Florida. This FNGLA event is geared to help industry professionals learn about some of the newest and latest plant releases best suited to deal with Florida’s tough climates.  If you use flowers in your landscape designs, this is a perfect event to help keep you abreast of new varieties you can utilize in your projects. This same week, the officers of FNGLA -- along with Ben Bolusky and Jim Spratt -- head to Washington D.C. to meet with the Members and staff of Florida’s congressional delegation. Some of the key issues we will discuss are our industry’s labor challenges, research to alleviate pest and disease pressures and disaster assistance.  This will be my first visit to D.C. with my FNGLA colleagues and I look forward to speaking with some of the key people to impress upon them how important these issues and challenges are to our industry’s business owners.  Advocacy is certainly one of the most valued pieces of your FNGLA membership.  

Speaking of politics, the Florida House and Senate have been battling over budgets cuts which will affect our industry. UF/IFAS and FDACS appear to be in good shape after dealing with some cuts in their budgets, but the Fresh From Florida program looks as if it will be taking a hard hit on the chin. It appears this program may suffer a budget cut from $12 million down to just $2 million.  This is a program which helps to effectively promote, advertise and market our industry throughout the United States and beyond. These potential cuts are really upsetting to me because Agriculture is the second largest revenue producer for the State of Florida and, in turn, nursery is its largest segment. Hopefully when the dust settles, these cuts will not be as bad as they seem.

On a more positive note, it looks as though President Trump and the Secretary of Agriculture seem to be on the side of Agriculture. The President signed an executive order to promote ‘Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.’ This executive order explicitly recognizes “agriculture needs access to a reliable workforce.” 

A roundtable discussion was held with President Trump and just confirmed Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to discuss labor availability challenges facing our industry. Seated immediately to the right of the President and the Secretary was a nursery grower from Ohio. If you talk with any nursery or landscape business owner, they will tell you labor is one of the leading issues facing their business today. A successful plan will hopefully be put into place to give some meaningful relief to this dilemma. 

This also happens to be the time of the year when FNGLA membership renewals are due.  For those of you who may debate whether or not to renew your membership, look at these very important issues affecting the industry in which you work every day. And, then look at the steps FNGLA is taking to protect, promote and ensure you are able to do the things necessary so you can actually run your business.  If this in itself doesn’t sell you on your renewal, then look at the other strategic benefits of FNGLA: Public Relations and Marketing, Education and Professional Certifications, or Exceptional Member Service and Value. It becomes readily obvious why every business working in this industry should be part of this solid association. Last, but certainly not least, I wish to remind everyone of FNGLA’s Annual Convention to be held in Fort Lauderdale on June 23 & 24.  There is no better time to come out and network with your industry peers and see what has been going on throughout this past year.  Not to mention there will be plenty of sun and fun on the beautiful beaches of Fort Lauderdale. Hope to see you there!

Robert Shoelson, FCLC 
Getting Green Plant Service, Inc. (Davie) & Betrock Information Systems, Inc. (Hollywood) 

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