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State Congressional Delegation Urges AG Secretary to Support California Flower Growers

A letter is written in favor of a proposed transportation, logistics and shipping center

Reps. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, and Sam Farr, D-Carmel, have written a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in support of California flower growers and the new transportation, logistics and shipping center proposed by the California Cut Flower Commission to help keep the state’s flower growers competitive in the global marketplace.

The letter was cosigned by 36 other members of the California congressional delegation.

“The CCFC has demonstrated incredible creativity and ingenuity in its proposal for a new shipping center, and is very deserving of the necessary federal support to cover the necessary transition costs associated with the project,” Capps said. “In addition to helping the growers lower costs and remain competitive in the global economy, this new transportation system will reduce congestion on California’s roadways and help the environment by lowering their carbon footprint. I will continue to strongly support them.”

“Congratulations to Congresswoman Capps and Congressman Farr for their leadership in putting together this strong California delegation letter for our state’s cut flower farmers,” said Kasey Cronquist, executive director of the California Cut Flower Commission. “Getting two-thirds of the delegation supporting federal assistance for establishing a new transportation and logistics center for our industry is a real achievement.”

California produces the vast majority of U.S. cut flowers. More than 80 percent of domestically grown flowers are grown in California, accounting for 20 percent of all flowers sold in the United States and directly supporting more than 10,000 jobs in the state.

However, the number of California’s flower farms is shrinking rapidly because of increasing imports from Colombia and the recession. In particular, Colombia cut flower producers have received millions of dollars in subsidies from their government and millions of dollars in foreign assistance from the U.S. government during the past 10 years.

To remain competitive, the California growers, represented by the California Cut Flower Commission, are in the final phase of developing a new transportation, logistics and shipping center that would reduce their shipping costs up to 40 percent. However, this new system requires significant upfront costs for the growers. Currently, the upfront shipping costs are paid by the customers, but the new consolidated system would shift these costs to the growers. This creates a funding gap between growers paying the carrier and being paid by their customers. The CCFC is seeking federal funding to cover this gap, which would encourage growers to transition to this more efficient system of delivery.

Last October, Capps and Farr included language in the fiscal year 2010 Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies Appropriations Conference Report urging Vilsack to “use all available resources to support domestic flower growers in their efforts to develop an efficient and environmentally friendly transportation, storage, and distribution system to better compete with foreign producers.”

— Ashley Schapitl is the press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.

 

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