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Horticulture Industry Leaders Hit Capitol Hill

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Impact Washington, AmericanHort’s two-day advocacy summit, brought over 100 attendees — representing 23 states as well as Canada — to Washington, D.C. to advocate on critical issues affecting the industry.

The fortuitous early September timing gave attendees an opportunity to give direct input into ongoing Congressional deliberations on pivotal issues, such as workforce, labor, and tax reform, research and innovation, and several Farm Bill priorities. Ultimately, attendees met with over 150 Congressional offices during the two-day event.

Participants also heard from a range of influential public officials. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) opened the summit with a passionate and, at times, humorous speech highlighting his business and political career and thoughts on how the nation must proceed with modernizing its immigration system and visa programs. Representative Rodney Davis, who chairs the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research, was introduced by Traci Dooley of the event’s lead sponsor Hortica Insurance. Davis spoke on House dynamics in these rather tumultuous times and described how the Farm Bill is coming together.

Former Mexican ambassador to the United States Arturo Sarukhan provided the event’s keynote. In 45 minutes of fascinating and fact-filled remarks, he summarized how the U.S. and Mexico’s relationship has evolved over the last 30 years to become a deeply interdependent economic and security partnership. That relationship is now under great strain, and Sarukhan detailed how Mexican public opinion of the U.S., generally very favorable over time, has plummeted to record lows. However, he seemed hopeful that the two countries would regain stable relationship footing, if only because there is so much shared interest and the stakes are so high.

Ray Starling, Special Assistant to the President for Agriculture, Trade, and Food Assistance, outlined the top agricultural priorities for his team, which include addressing agriculture’s workforce dilemmas, expanding trade, and providing regulatory relief.

In order to prepare horticulture’s citizen lobbyists for their Congressional meetings, AmericanHort staff were joined by our attorneys and advisors at CJ-Lake LLC, K-Coe Isom, and DC Legislative & Regulatory Services. Detailed issue briefings covered workforce and immigration reform issues, tax reform, and research, innovation, and the Farm Bill.

Impact Washington was a major success and a big step in advancing the AmericanHort legislative and policy agenda and advocacy efforts. Special thanks to all who made it a priority to attend, to our sponsors who helped ensure a high-quality yet affordable experience, and to the 13 state nursery and landscape association grassroots partners who joined us and helped coordinate their state delegations for successful visits.

Tal Coley and Craig Regelbrugge