American-grown flowers and flower growers are finally starting to recover from the War on Drugs. Yes, the War on Drugs, which was waged in the early 1990s, put a dent in U.S. flower farmers’ bottom line.
The decade the flowers died
“In 1991, domestic blossoms accounted for 64 percent of the nation’s flower sales," Modern Farmer reports. "That was also the year that the United States entered into the Andean Trade Preference Agreement (ATPA), which eliminated tariffs on a number of products from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Part of the War on Drugs, the pact had among its goals persuading South American farmers to cultivate flowers instead of the coca that ends up as cocaine.”
Inevitably, countries—specifically Colombia—flooded the U.S. market with inexpensive cut flowers. This shift hurt the American flower industry—especially in California, which had supplied 75 percent of the nation’s cut flowers "before the passage of the ATPA.”
Thankfully, the American flower industry is beginning to recover. Its resurgence has a lot to do with consumers' increasing interest in local food and products.
American-grown flowers' regrowth
The recovery began in 2013 when the Certified American Grown task force, led by Kasey Cronquist, the chief executive of the California Cut Flower Commission, began doing research.
The force discovered that most consumers—74 percent—had no clue where their flowers were grown. The force also found out that more than half of consumers would rather by local flowers.
To accommodate consumer interest, and to help infuse the American flower industry, the Certified American Grown task force partnered with Made In USA Certified, Inc., "an independent agency that verifies the source of all kinds of products, to establish an identification system,” Modern Farmer reports.
The two groups created the Certified American Grown label to ensure “flowers and foliage have been grown, and bouquets assembled, in the United States.”
The labels started appearing on bouquets in 2014.
The modern American flower game
Now, there are local flower farmers who work to raise consumer awareness about American-grown blooms. For example:
- Eight growers in the Madison, Wisconsin area created the Fair Field Flowers cooperative, a co-op that delivers fresh flowers to locals.
- SlowFlowers.com, a comprehensive website that extensively outlines the importance of supporting locally grown flowers, also is spearing the word about American blooms by hosting “field-to-vase” dinners at flower farms across the U.S. The site’s creator, Debra Prinzing, is a writer, speaker, outdoor living expert, and advocate for American flower farming.
So, next time you want to buy a fresh bouquet of blooms, consider hitting up your local farmers market. The American-grown flowers you find will look better than anything that's imported and will help a local farmer.
What’s more beautiful than that?
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Image of flowers at farmers market via Shutterstock