Independent Senator Angus King has joined a call for the federal government to only use flowers from the United States.
Under the “American Grown Act,” the office of the president and the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of State would be required to only procure cut flowers and cut greens grown in America, per AP News.
In a statement, King said, “When the U.S. government spends taxpayers’ dollars, it should prioritize American products in order to reinject these funds back into the national economy. We have an opportunity to meet this responsibility by buying American-grown flowers – but under the current system, the vast majority of flowers purchased by the government are foreign-grown, meaning that money is sent to stimulate foreign economies. This is a simple fix that will benefit our flower-growing industry and overall economy.”
U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also backed the bill. The aim is to support one of the many industries hit hardest by the pandemic.
“If one issue can unite members of Congress, it is the call to Buy American — especially when American taxpayer dollars are involved. Our federal agencies spend millions of dollars procuring flowers and greenery for our many events, ceremonies and galas, and those flowers should be American grown,” said Senator Sullivan in a statement on his website.
“By putting this commonsense, patriotic concept into law, we will support the hard-working men and women of this industry, including the hundreds of local growers in Alaska,” he said.
The previous executive director of the California Association of Growers and Shippers, Michael LoBue, said in 2020 that the $6 billion U.S. flower industry was already faltering before the pandemic. South American growers can grow roses and carnations year-round which increased market share. Many California farmers swapped flowers for cannabis, which is considered more lucrative, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
An estimated 80 percent of flowers sold in the U.S. are imported. The top domestic producers of flowers are California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington
In a report following a 2017 state dinner, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that floriculture is the third-largest U.S. agricultural crop. Floriculture includes fresh cut flowers, cut cultivated greens, potted flowering plants, foliage plants, and bedding/garden plants.
“The industry consists of more than 60,000 small businesses, such as growers, wholesalers, retailers, and distributors,” reported the USDA.