House Rejects Farm Bill
By Drew Gruenburg
Specialty crop provisions that SAF members lobbied for during Congressional Action Days are in a precarious position after the U.S. House of Representatives defeated the Farm Bill (H.R. 1947). In a stunning turnaround, only 24 Democrats voted for the measure last week; 62 Republicans voted against it.
"The defeat of the House bill is shocking," said SAF's Lin Schmale, senior director of government relations. "It is, sadly, a demonstration of partisan gridlock, which is in no one's best interest. We had a strong, bipartisan bill for specialty crops and indeed for all of agriculture."
The current Farm Bill expires Sept. 30.
A controversial centerpiece of the House bill would have cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — or food stamp program — by $20.5 billion, far more than the Senate-passed bill. Democratic leadership said that even with those cuts, they had the votes for the bill, but that the adoption of a last-minute Republican amendment to mandate work requirements for SNAP recipients was the "last straw." Even very conservative Rep. Steve King (R-4-Iowa) lamented the bill's failure, suggesting that some of his Republican colleagues "seem to think that if we hold out we will actually get larger cuts in food stamps."
The vote was widely seen as a defeat for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who voted for the bill.
"It's almost unheard of for the Speaker to bring a bill to the floor, vote for it, and then lose," said Schmale, adding that "pleas for unity among Republicans fell on deaf ears, as ultra-conservative House members supported a philosophy rather than their party's leadership."
The new Farm Bill was developed with a strong conservative philosophy in mind and included cuts to food stamps, row-crop subsidies and other spending seen as wasteful by Republican members. The Senate version of the bill contains more than $24 billion in 10-year savings; the House version, $39.7 billion. Those savings are now foregone. Capitol Hill insiders expect to see the current law extended.
Extending the existing law rather than passing a new bill is a problem for the floral industry because it puts several specialty crop programs at risk, including the Specialty Crop Research Initiative and the National Clean Plant Network, Schmale said. Both of those efforts expired at the end of 2012. Without the new funding, they cannot continue.
Specialty crops, including floriculture and nursery, fruit and vegetable crops, grapes, potatoes and many others, make up more than half of U.S. cash crop value. Floral and nursery crops account for over a third of the total specialty crop value.
Read extended coverage of the Farm Bill vote, and potential effects on specific floriculture programs, in last week's Washington Week in Review.
For more information contact Schmale at (800) 336-4743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senate Expected to Vote Thursday on Immigration Reform
By Lin Schmale
Comprehensive immigration reform moved ahead this week, with a strong Senate vote, 67-27, that approved a compromise amendment offered by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) to strength border security.
A final vote in the Senate is expected by the end of the week. If senators approve the bill, action on immigration reform then moves to the House, where prospects for a comprehensive bill are uncertain at this moment.
Immigration reform has long been an issue in Congress, but several factors in this latest effort are credited with gaining support from key Republicans, including approval of the border security amendment, which doubles the size of the U.S. Border Patrol and requires an additional 700 miles of fencing at the U.S.-Mexico border. The bill's supporters hope that the strong show of bipartisanship will encourage support in the divided House.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said that he will only hold a vote on an immigration measure that enjoys support from a majority of Republicans. After last week's Farm Bill defeat (see top story), however, some analysts have expressed concern about his ability to cobble together enough support to pass immigration.
SAF supports comprehensive immigration reform. The Agriculture Workforce Coalition, which includes SAF, recently ran its third ad in a widely read Capitol Hill newspaper, Politico, emphasizing the negative impact of continued offshoring of American agriculture.
PFCI to Welcome Six New Members at SAF Phoenix 2013
By Jenny Scala
The industry's top speakers bureau will extend its ranks this fall, with the induction of six new members in SAF's Professional Floral Communicators – International (PFCI). SAF will recognize the speakers' achievements during the Stars of the Industry Awards Dinner on Sept. 21 at SAF Phoenix 2013, the association's 129th Annual Convention in Phoenix, Ariz.
PFCI members present educational programs on local, regional and national stages, teaching floral professionals how to be more successful. With 130 PFCI members in 37 states, Canada and Singapore, PFCI generates enthusiasm for flower buying by speaking to consumers at the grassroots level in civic, social and professional groups.
"Obtaining the PFCI credentials is an incredible honor," said PFCI Board Chairman Vince Butera, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, of Butera The Florist in York, Pa. "The meticulous review process qualifies each PFCI member as an expert floral spokesperson and communicator."
PFCI members are vetted for presentation, publication and leadership experience. To demonstrate their communication skills, candidates submit an audition DVD of a live presentation. The following professionals earned the PFCI designation this year:
Read more about the inductees.
Who Will Drive Your Success for the Long Haul?
By Shelley Estersohn
If you're trying to grow your business by focusing on new products, services and marketing tactics, you may be missing the mark, according to retail expert Jim Dion. In today's marketplace, Dion said "before you think about what you need to drive success, ask yourself who" will be behind the wheel for the long haul.
A company isn't just made up of products and services, explained the president of Dionco, Inc., "it's the sum of your vision and leadership and your team's ability to execute it in the best possible way." Successful companies today are creating and sustaining growth "because they have a highly trained, motivated workforce and an overall culture that drives results."
So how do you develop a team with the skills, drive and passion to excel? That's the focus of Dion's Kick-off Breakfast presentation "What's the Key to Market Success" at SAF's 129th Annual Convention, Sept. 18-21 in Phoenix.
Two other convention sessions explore the power of organizational culture and leadership to drive success.
To register now, click here.
Creating a culture that drives success is the focus of presentations by (from left) Jim Dion, Mary Liz Curtin and Jennifer Blackmon at SAF Phoenix 2013. For details, click here.
Affluent Consumers Continue Spending
Attribute it to an improving economy, or simply fatigue in behaving a certain way, but the days of well-to-do consumers reportedly hiding their blue Tiffany bags in plastic Target bags are just about over. According to the most recent Affluent Online Shopper Index, affluent shoppers (those who make more than $100,000 a year) continue to outspend other segments in the first quarter of this year. Read more.
Patriotic Promotions to Put Flowers in the Fourth
By Katie Hendrick
Since flowers and birthdays go great together, why not push your customers to celebrate America's 237th?
Here are some patriotic promotions to rev up customers' excitement and get them associating flowers with the Fourth of July.
How to Turn Customers into Brand Ambassadors
By Katie Hendrick
Your team needs a brand ambassador — and, best of all, you don't have to pay them a dime. "Brand ambassadors" are prized patrons who share their satisfaction about your company's products, services or general greatness.
Entrepreneur magazine shared the story of an Illinois teenager who posted on Taco Bell's Facebook a cheeky request: a speedo bearing fast-food chain Taco Bell's logo, "think outside the buns." Taco Bell responded, "What size do you wear? And what's your address?" The interaction garnered more than 3,600 Facebook likes and resulted in a very enthusiastic customer who will pump up the Taco Bell brand for life.
If you're thinking this kind of union could only happen with a catchy tagline and addictive junk food, think again. In another example, Entrepreneur illustrates how Crayola recruited an ambassador after first making a flub (albeit a very minor one). A customer complained on Facebook that his box of crayons contained an unsharpened Carnation Pink. So what did Crayola do? Send a replacement crayon, of course, which prompted a follow up post from the now very happy customer.
The key to both scenarios: listening. Any gesture — big or small — that shows you're paying attention to what your customer says is the way to cultivate a super fan. "When so much is happening online, brand ambassadorship is built off of customer service," said Perry Fair, a chief creative officer at global ad agency JWT. "At the end of the day, that's really what is it."
Dust Off the Database to Track Down Former Customers
By Katie Hendrick
Even if you don’t successfully revive estranged relationships, it's valuable to learn what happened. If they’ve switched to a competitor, there’s an opportunity to inquire about your weaknesses. If they’ve quit purchasing flowers in general, you can point to studies that reveal the health and emotional benefits of flowers.
Consider this your homework: Dust off the database and flag customers you haven’t heard from in a while. Ask them why they left — over the phone, ideally; it’s more personal. But an online survey or poll can also glean this information; just be sure your questions are direct (for example: “Did the arrangement you receive meet your expectations in terms of size, style and types of flowers used?” versus “Did you like your arrangement?”). Invite them to name your weaknesses, and welcome their suggestions for improvement. Then, implement their changes, tell them you did and thank them for the feedback. Goodwill will ensue.
For more tips to stimulate sales during the dog days of summer, check out “Summer Shop Fitness Routine.”
The 4 Things Business Owners Hope They Never Have to Say
American Express OPEN Forum
You work hard to build your business. You probably get in early and stay late. I’m guessing you also sacrifice at least some of your personal life for the greater good of the company. If you work so hard, why would you risk everything you’ve done by not securing your business? In many cases, all it takes is one phone call or email—postponing that call or email is like playing Russian roulette with your company. Read more.
Vine App Makes Splash with Android Users
By Katie Hendrick
Meet Vine, a mobile app that allows its users to upload six-second-long videos to Facebook and Twitter. It actually debuted in January as an iOS app on the iPhone and iPod Touch, but its introduction June 2 on Android devices has created a surge in popularity.
According to Topsy Analytics, a San Francisco company that gathers and analyzes tweets, just four days after Vine became available to Android users, the video application had been shared 2.86 million times, whereas the photo-sharing app, Instagram, had roughly 2.17 million shares.
Vine was also the fourth most downloaded application in Google Play, Android’s app market. Only Facebook, Candy Crush Saga and Pandora surpassed it.
Before it launched a version for Andoid, Vine became Apple’s most popular application in April and had 13 million users. It is currently the second most popular free application in the iPhone App Store. Instagram, on the other hand, is no. 19.
Retailers: Embrace the Smartphone-Browsing Consumer
A lot has been written lately about showrooming, the practice of going to a retail store to see a product, only to purchase it online. Some data suggest the trend spells doom for the largest and best-known retailers, while others dismiss it as a myth. The fact is that smartphone-toting consumers are walking into retail stores, snapping shots of shelf tags, reading reviews, and finding the best price long before a salesperson even notices them. This behavior alters the role of the retail space and changes the Read more.
Twitter is Developing Geo-Targeted Ads for Retailers
As soon as the end of the year, Twitter is planning to let brands show promoted tweets to people who open its mobile apps within close range of their stores. Twitter will enable ads to be targeted to people who are near specific latitudes and longitudes and could be ready as soon as the fourth quarter, according to two people briefed on the product. Read more.
Teleflora Updates Member Directory
Teleflora announced Tuesday it will be implementing a number of changes to its member directory, including daily eDirectory updates. According to a press release: Teleflora is constantly looking to improve the many products and services offered to its florist members. One of the products the company currently offers is Member eDirectory and the company updates information pertinent for florist businesses including contact information, codification, new shops and any other changes related to directory advertising. In the past, Teleflora updated this information every three months. This eDirectory adjustment means that the company can now provide these kinds of updates on a daily basis, giving members the most accurate and up-to-date information for sending shop-to-shop orders in the industry. This has been a major undertaking for the company, and as always it was motivated by their desire to help member florists do their best. For information, call Teleflora’s customer service, (800) 421-2815.
Five Things to Do When Business is Slow
On The Horizon
Personnel Management Tools at your Fingertips
Did you know that SAF has human resource management tools tailored specifically for the floriculture industry? As an SAF member you can download a customizable employee handbook and job descriptions covering various positions in retail, grower and wholesale establishments, click here for details.
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