By Louie Perry, Cornerstone Government Affairs (OAN federal lobbyist) and Jeff Stone, Director of Government Relations – Oregon Association of Nurseries
The OAN in conjunction with Cornerstone Government Affairs has been working to obtain dollars for pest, plant and disease assistance through the farm bill. While not dedicated to Oregon specifically, the “systems approach” being pursued will bring much needed dollars to USDA to prevent harmful diseases to nursery stock.
The OAN has participated in a number of congressional hearings and forums over the past 18 months. This effort has raised the nursery industry’s profile on important decisions made at the federal level.
The farm bill refers to the expansive, comprehensive legislative vehicle that Congress takes up every 5 to 7 years to establish medium-term U.S. agricultural policy. Farm bills consist of various programs:
Over a 10-year period (FY 2007-16), federal programs authorized by the farm bill are projected to cost $608 billion. The largest expenditures are in the areas of food and nutrition (64 percent); commodity programs, supports and subsidies (18 percent); conservation programs (8 percent); and crop insurance (7 percent). Other programs–research, inspection, export credits, forestry and rural development-–represent less than 3 percent of all farm bill expenditures.
OAN worked with the House and Senate Ag Committee staff and drafted language that will address our needs, and will continue to work with Members and staff to get our language enacted. While we are pleased that the subcommittee considered and accepted some of our language, they did not take all of it. Thankfully, the Oregon delegation is in strong support of our effort and they are communicating their support to the House and Senate Ag Committees. While the House has not accepted all of the OAN nursery related language, we believe they are willing to do more.
The Agriculture Committee is meeting to mark up the new farm legislation that has previously been considered by the subcommittees. Chairman Peterson has indicated he will divide the legislation into two components. One component will be combined with legislation that stays within the budget baseline and meets pay-go requirements. This includes commodity funding (with some reductions), some conservation programs, mandatory money, trade, crop insurance (with some reductions), rural development and other provisions.
The second component, which will include a permanent disaster program, additional new funding for specialty crops, nutrition enhancements and a new energy title, will be held until it is known whether additional funds will be available from the reserve established in the budget resolution. As currently constructed, the second component is approximately $17.5 billion over baseline and therefore would be subject to a budget point-of-order on the floor.
Chairman Peterson has met frequently with ag and commodity group representatives, including Cornerstone staff, in an effort to reach consensus on the commodity, conservation and specialty crop provisions. He has encouraged ag leaders to consult with their members during the July 4 recess and reiterate support for finding additional funding for the Chairman to enact a robust farm bill.
We are working hard but are not yet where we need to be due to (somewhat bewildering) opposition from the specialty crop coalition–which includes ANLA. Peterson’s and Goodlatte’s staff seem to recognize the need for what we are trying to do and have pledged to help us find common ground with the specialty crop coalition but so far no agreement has materialized. Most of what the Committee has in their pest and disease draft is helpful to us and with the addition of a mandate that the secretary create a systems pilot, we will be in good shape. The $265,000 grant from USDA to ODA to work on this will be helpful too. It is important to note, Chairman Peterson is also contemplating numerous incentives for alternative energy enhancement, including projects to utilize wood and wood waste for energy.
In the Senate, Chairman Harkin has not released any of his Farm Bill titles and was aiming to begin marking up the Farm Bill around July 17th. Fortunately, both Chambliss and Harkin have pledged to include our fix and we will continue to work with Congresswoman Hooley and Congressman Walden on the house side.
Sept. 27-29 at Seventh Mountain Resort in Bend
Consumer preference shifts
OAN-sponsored health plan update
New list of invasive species announced
Registration is now open for this year’s convention! Technology keeps changing how business gets done, but it still comes down to people. And there is no better place to get to know the people active in your industry! Quality seminars and important contacts await you in a relaxing setting among the pines this September at Seventh Mountain Resort. Rooms are available now, starting at $99 + tax per night for a one-bedroom premium condo. Call the resort at 1-888-784-4386 and say that you’re with the OAN. Or make your reservations online at www.seventhmountain.com. Just be sure you enter group code 1057GC to get the group discount.
The Garden Writers Association Foundation (GWAF) recently released their 2007 Summer Gardening Trends Research Report.
In a June survey, The GWAF asked consumers where they actually purchased most of their spring plants. Consumers confirmed that garden centers or local gardening stores got most (43 percent) of their business while mass merchants and DIY stores came in second (39 percent). This is a significant shift from prior years.
One in four consumers (23 percent) want more information about annual vs. perennial flowers, 22 percent want information on vegetable gardening, 20 percent on pest control, 19 percent on weed control, and 19 percent on organic gardening.
When comparing 2006 to 2007, more Americans have no plan to save water this year (31 percent in 2006 vs. 39 percent in 2007).
This summer, about half of consumers will use their garden for relaxation or as a spiritual retreat (48 percent). More than a quarter of consumers are planning to use their garden or yard for food production or as a children’s area (28 percent and 26 percent, respectively). Almost half (47 percent) do some form of container gardening.
The summer gardening survey was conducted in June and covers consumer expectations and attitudes for activities and purchases planned for the next few months. The survey was conducted by TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, a national consumer polling organization, and statistically represents the attitudes of 110 million households with an accuracy of 95 percent (+/- 3.1 percentage points).
OAN-sponsored health plan update: By Allen Zwemke - CFP, Inc.
At the conclusion of the 2006-2007 plan year, CFP reports renewal for the OAN sponsored health plan. Starting with 145 OAN member companies participating in the health plan, CFP ended with 138 companies renewing with the current carrier, ODS.
The OAN’s overall plan experience contributed to the renewal. Preliminary figures indicate a 67 percent loss ratio for 2006-2007. In simple terms, for every $1.00 paid in premiums to ODS, $0.67 was paid out in claims. Due to the favorable loss ratio, CFP was able to negotiate a moderate rate increase with minimal changes to the existing plan selection.
Through our partnership with ODS, we are able to continue to deliver a comprehensive array of plans and competitive rates. CFP is happy to announce a new plan offering with a $750 per person deductible, designed to bridge the gap between the current $500 and $1,000 deductible plans. Free COBRA administration is still available for all participating OAN members, along with other free “value-added services” such as EAP (Employee Assistance Program), EDoc America, and the 24-hour nurse advice line.
For more information on the OAN-sponsored health plan, or other employee benefit plans available through CFP, Inc., please call toll-free 1-888-588-2988 and dial ext. 336 for Laura Wilson or ext. 323 for Allen Zwemke.
The Invasive Species Council has just released a new list of the 100 worst invasive species that have not yet established in Oregon but could thrive once given a foothold. These are species that should be excluded from Oregon, and eradicated if detected. Now five years old, the list is helpful to agencies, landowners, environmental groups, industry and the general public. While there are thousands of potential invaders, this list is confined to the worst. It includes mammals, birds, insects, weeds, microorganisms, and more.
This year there have been a few changes in the top 100. In two cases, similar species have been combined. Golden nematode is a cousin to potato cyst nematode. Zebra and quagga mussels are also closely related among aquatic invertebrates. Eliminated from the list are decollate snail, Japanese cedar longhorned beetle, and red haired pine bark beetle. Added to the list this year are Japanese wax scale, light brown apple moth, Swede midge, white garden snail, and the microorganism Southern wilt. "The new additions are species that have shown up in other parts of the country with similar environments to Oregon," says Hilburn. View the entire list of the 100 worst invasive species by going online at oregon.gov/OISC/list_100_worst.shtml.
A special invasive species hotline (1-866-INVADER) receives several dozen phone calls a month from Oregonians who see something they don't think belongs. Reports are farmed out to the appropriate agency for follow up.
For more information, contact Dan Hilburn at (503) 986-4663. For an audio version of the full story, please go to http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/news/070711invasive_audio.shtml.
July: Summer picnic
August: Plant sale
August: Wine & Dine
September: British Columbia Treasure Hunt. All members welcome!
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Copyright © 2007 Oregon Association of Nurseries