News

August 31, 2001 - 11:49

Supreme Court ruling changes advertising

The Supreme Court’s ruling in June that a mandatory advertising campaign for the mushroom industry violates the First Amendment guarantee of free speech could have ramifications in other crop categories. The 6-3 ruling was a victory for mushroom producer United Foods, which argued that a mandatory mushroom promotional campaign forced the company to pay for ads that benefited its competitors. Justice Anthony Kennedy said the mushroom market is less regulated than, for example, the fruit industry, and mushroom market producers do not cooperate the way fruit producers do.

Applying that reasoning, the constitutionality of other ad campaigns could be judged by the degree of cohesion and regulation in each industry. One of the programs that might be called into question as a result of this decision is the initiative by California cut flower producers to raise awareness of the cut flower industry in California. The California Cut Flower Commission, which is funded by all cut flower growers in California, recently voted to designate part of the funds it has collected to support the Flower Promotion Organization with funding for an additional 21 months. The decision provides close to two-thirds of the necessary funds needed by U.S. growers to continue the $2.5 million annual commitment by Colombian growers.

Calif. flower growers hold open house

Wholesale cut flower buyers are invited to attend the first Calif. Flower Grower Open House Sept. 24-28. More than 20 cut flower operations from Arcata to San Diego will participate in the self-guided open house program. Growers are offering $100 product rebate vouchers to each pre-registered company that visits their facilities. Special events, barbecues and festivities are planned to entertain buyers in this event that is modeled after the California Pack Trials. There is no registration fee, but all buyers must pre-register by Sept. 7. The California Cut Flower Commission is coordinating registration and can be reached at ccfc@ccfc.org or www.ccfc.org

Ag growers testify about methyl bromide

Growers of various agricultural crops, including greenhouse crops, recently testified at a USDA/EPA methyl bromide alternatives workshop in Maryland. SAF reports that growers discussed their experiences with methyl bromide alternatives and the impact of the 2005 phase-out of the fumigant. According to grower testimony, the phase-out could put U.S. growers at a severe competitive disadvantage with growers in developing countries who will be able to use methyl bromide until 2016.

Second economic impact survey

A 2nd Economic Impact Survey of Florida’s nursery and landscape industry will be conducted by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The survey is being funded jointly by industry trade organizations, commercial financial institutions and UF/IFAS. The first survey, conducted in 1998, collected 1997 sales figures that revealed the industry had a $5.4 billion impact on the state’s economy. About 1,500 commercial firms and 500 households will be interviewed. The survey will include producers of foliage, bedding plants and woody ornamentals and will cover mass merchandisers, independent retail garden centers and landscape contracting and maintenance firms. The study will also collect economic data in the state’s 10 largest nursery/greenhouse crop-producing counties. Because most of Florida has been under water restrictions several times over the past couple of years, the survey will also gather data on the impact water restrictions have had on the nursery and landscape industry’s sales.

PlantAmerica to launch green industry resource

PlantAmerica (www.plantamerica.com), which provides business enhancing Web-based technology tools to the green industry, has announced a new agreement with Netscape Communications, a subsidiary of America Online, to create the most comprehensive online information resource and electronic market for landscape service providers, garden center retailers and wholesale growers. The new service will feature news, tools, information, and buying and selling resources focused specifically on key green industry business segments. As part of the agreement, PlantAmerica will provide Netscape Netbusiness users with customized content from selected areas within the Netbusiness service. The placement enables landscape professionals, garden center retailers and wholesale growers to bring their entire purchasing process under one virtual roof. Members can issue requests for quotes and submit purchase orders online while simultaneously locating applicable products and services using keywords, product classifications or supplier names via advanced Netbusiness search functionality. Marketplace members have the opportunity to automatically submit bids for supplies and services that are routinely purchased, eliminating time wasted on sourcing products and services through more traditional means.

OFA looking for new director

The Ohio Florists Association is seeking to hire an excessive director to replace Dennis Kirven, who will be leaving the position in March 2002. Selection criteria are knowledge of and/or experience in management, preferably in a not-for-profit setting; knowledge of and/or experience in business, preferably in the services industry, specifically horticulture; communications skills; and the abilities to initiate, be tactful, work in small groups, make public appearances, exercise critical judgment and be confident in dealing with others. OFA is looking to fill the position by January 2002. To receive an application package, call VSA at (301) 940-1066 and leave your name and mailing address.

Mexican government requests regulation change

The Mexican government has requested that U.S. Quarantine-37 regulation be changed to allow importation of bougainvillaea, ficus, croton, dracaena, scindapsus, lantana, mandevilla, pelargonium and Euphorbia pulcherima (poinsettia) in growing media from Mexico into the United States. Treaty obligations require USDA to look at the request. Both the United States and Mexico will conduct risk assessments and will provide results to USDA for review. Public comment will be sought before a final USDA ruling is made. SAF and ANLA have met with USDA-APHIS officials to offer assistance. According to SAF, it is too early to tell whether USDA will agree to the request.

Spring Hill files bankruptcy

Foster & Gallagher Inc., headquartered in Peoria, Ill., a direct marketer of hort. and gift products, announced that it and 21 of its domestic subsidiaries, including Spring Hill Nurseries, Breck’s and Stark Bros. Nurseries, have filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11. The company plans to wind down its business and sell all or substantially all of its assets. Its management team, board of directors and bank lenders have explored a number of alternatives, including financial restructuring, operational reorganization of its core businesses and a sale of strategic assets. F&G’s Spring Hill Group, Stark Bros. Nurseries, Michigan Bulb Group, Gurney’s Group and all of their subsidiaries have been closed. However, Spring Hill Nurseries in Peoria, Ill., and Stark Bros. Nurseries in Louisiana, Mo., are for sale and will go through the auction process in early August 2001.

Projections reported

Industry leaders Scotts Co. and Hines Hort have both reported lower than expected earnings for the second and third quarter.

Scotts Co., the world’s largest supplier of lawn and garden care products, lowered its 3rd-quarter and full-year profit estimates, blaming poor weather for disappointing sales in the United States and Europe. Ohio-based Scotts, whose popular brands include Miracle-Gro and Ortho, said it expects to report 3rd-quarter earnings somewhere between $1.88 to $1.98 per share compared with $1.78 per share a year earlier. The company had forecast earnings of $2.33 to $2.63 per share.

Hines Hort. reported that May sales declined 14 percent from a year ago. However, the commercial nursery operator reconfirmed expectations that 2001 earnings per share will range from 56-63 cents. Hines said the cool May weather would impact 2nd-quarter earnings, which are expected in the range of 91-93 cents per share.

Calif. allots millions to conservation

New California legislation has allotted $75 million for ag. energy conservation measures, including nursery operations. There are four categories for eligible projects: high-efficiency electrical equipment and other overall electricity conservation efforts, pump efficiency testing and retrofit/repair, advancing metering and telemetry, and retrofit of natural gas-powered equipment to alternative fuels. Incentive grants will pay 65 percent of a project’s cost, up to $300,000 in the 4th category. A maximum of $350 per kilowatt reduction is available in the electrical category. More information about the program can be found at www.energy.ca.gov/ag.

Bailey Nurseries finds a new president

Rod Bailey is stepping down as president of Bailey Nurseries, headquartered in St. Paul, Minn. Taking his place will be Terri McEnaney. Bailey said he made the move to spend more time in the production area with customer relations. He will continue to serve on the board of directors and his brother, Gordon Bailey Jr., will remain chairman of the board.

Marketing alliance formed

Goldsmith Seeds, Goldsmith Plants and Fischer USA have joined the Flower Fields marketing alliance. Flower Fields was started in April 2000 by Paul Ecke Ranch and Yoder Brothers. All Goldsmith seed and vegetative plants have been added to the program. With the addition of the Goldsmith products and Fischer vegetative geraniums and New Guinea impatiens, the Flower Fields product line expands from 350 cultivators to more than 1,400. Goldsmith and Fischer vegetative products will include plants tags with Flower Fields logo. Tags will not be required on Goldsmith seed products.

Garden.com under partial liquidation

When e-garden.com closed its virtual doors last year, it was the largest of the green industry dot coms to fall. Now, the company is trying to settle accounts with investors. E-garden.com’s board of directors has voted for a partial liquidating cash distribution to stockholders, amounting to 20 cents per share. E-garden.com may make one or more subsequent distributions. The Austin, Texas based B-to-C provider closed last December after additional venture capital could not be found.

Lucky Bamboo isn’t lucky

Maybe lucky bamboo isn’t so lucky after all. Asian tiger mosquitoes, known to carry Dengue fever and encephalitis, have been discovered at a Los Angeles wholesale nursery in containers of imported lucky bamboo. The containers held 2-3 inches of water, which facilitated mosquito breeding, according to Los Angeles Times. Lucky bamboo, Dracaena sanderiana, has become a popular imported pot plant. All new incoming shipments of the plant will be held at port and inspected.

Bedding plants are new trend

Recently, Time Magazine ran a story about the the use and potential benefits of a new trend toward less lawn area and more garden or flower beds. The main reasons behind the trend were practical – bedding plants need less pampering than turf and, therefore, cost less to maintain. The S.W. Nevada Water Authority has even started paying homeowners in its area to convert lawns to native plants, at 40 cents per square foot. A few other states offer financial incentives as well, including Calif., N.M. and Ariz.

Etera tries to avoid bankruptcy

Trying to avoid Chapter 7 or 11 bankruptcy, perennial grower Etera in Mt. Vernon, Wash., sent its creditors a workout agreement explaining the company’s attempts to pay its debts. The company is negotiating with investors and potential lenders to acquire additional operating funds. Etera is seeking to remedy past financial and operating hurdles such as overexpansion, quality assurance, customer service and inventory shrinkage.

H-2A reform progressing

The American Nursery & Landscape Association endorsed S. 1161, the Agriculture Job Opportunity & Benefits Security Act, introduced by Senator Larry Craig and nine original co-sponsors. The two-part bill would bring about the package of agricultural labor solutions sought by ANLA and coalition partners.

The H-2A program in the S. 1161 bill will change the current "adverse effect wage" rate to a more consistent and realistic "prevailing wage" rate. Other reforms to the H-2A agricultural guest worker program in Craig’s S. 1161 are:

• The bill would establish an "attestation" certification process to streamline guest worker application approvals by the Labor Department. This would limit opportunities for bureaucratic roadblocks and delays.

• The Davis-Bacon prevailing wage would be established as the standard wage for workers admitted under the H-2A program.

• The bill would require growers to provide housing and transportation for farm workers brought into the United States under the H-2A program. However, growers could provide a housing allowance instead of housing if the governor of a state certified that sufficient local housing existed.

• The "earned status adjustment program" would allow certain undocumented workers to adjust to permanent legal resident status. It is estimated that the number of undocumented agricultural workers who would qualify for this status adjustment program is less than 700,000. The bill would require that:

• Workers must be employed for 150 days of work in agriculture in 12 consecutive months during the 18-month period prior to the bill’s enactment to qualify for the adjustment program. Á

• Adjusting workers work a minimum of 600 days in agriculture during a maximum six-year period, with a requirement that 80 percent of that obligation (480 days) be completed during the first four years of the adjustment program. Workers can also complete adjustment in four years if they meet the 600-day work obligation during that period.

• Adjusting workers be allowed to work in non agricultural employment once they satisfy their annual agricultural work requirement during the given year. This could provide relief to the landscape and other service industries.

• Adjusting workers remain in the United States for more than 30 consecutive days in any calendar year without intervening agricultural or nonagricultural employment; they may travel to their country of origin during periods when they are not working, and workers must prove to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) that they meet the annual work requirements.

• Adjusted workers be allowed to earn permanent residence upon completion of the program. It will not move adjusted workers ahead of current immigrants to the United States seeking permanent residence. The program is designed to take the same amount of time it would take a worker to be approved by the INS for permanent residence if they returned home and went through the normal immigration process.

CORF offers tours of Australia

The Floriculture education foundation CORF is offering a tour of nurseries, botanic gardens and flower markets of Australia. The tour will depart October 6 from Los Angeles and conclude October 17. The tour is sponsored by the California Cut Flower Commission and California Association of Flower Growers & Shippers as well as the University of California Cooperative Extension.

Single occupancy in the tour will cost $4200, while double occupancy will cost $3950. A valid passport and, in most instances, a visa, is required. Road and air transportation, as well as meals, are included. The hotels will feature twin bed rooms, private baths and air conditioning.

Guests will arrive in Sydney on October 8, where they will participate in tours of Flemington Flower Market, Harris Farm and The Australia Flower Company. On October 10, the group will move on to Perth, with a wildflower and pinnacle tour slated for the 11th and a tour of King’s Park scheduled for the 12th. On October 13th, the tour will move on to Brisbane. The 14th will feature an excursion to several commercial wildflower farms, and on the 15th the group will tour the Brisbane Flower market. The tour will conclude on Tuesday, October 16, with a full-day, Great Barrier Reef excursion. For more information, call the CORF office at (707) 462-2425.

Fernlea group offers Florida facility for sale

The Fernlea Group of Delhi, Ontario, Canada, announced that it plans to offer its 36-acre facility in Apopka, Fla. for sale as part of its plan to align facilities with its existing areas of distribution.

Fernlea purchased the Apopka facility in 1997 from Greiling Farms, who operated it under the name Natural Beauty of Florida.

Fernlea President Jeff Howe said, "With the increasing cost of distribution combined with the need to provide various forms of inventory management to our customers, it’s clear that we need to focus more on the markets that represent the greatest opportunity for Fernlea." Fernlea has locations in Ontario and two other locations in Florida that are not affected by the alignment.

Mike Bouk, COO, stated, "It is our sincere hope that the sale of the facility can be completed in the near future to minimize any concerns and any uncertainties our employees and suppliers might have."

Interested parties should contact Bouk at 1-800-265-6789, extension 258.

Ohio Florists’ Association elects new officials

The Ohio Florists’ Association announced July 15 that for the next two years the Association will run under the leadership of newly elected President Joe Boarini, owner of Grande Greenhouse in Indianapolis. Boarini served as the Association’s vice president since 1999.

Kathleen Benken of H.J. Benken Florist and Greenhouses, Cincinnati, Ohio, was elected as vice president. Benken has served as the Ohio Retail Florist director of the board for the last three years.

In addition, five directors have been elected to the board. Jerry Dill was elected Ohio Grower director; Kirsten Molbak was elected to fill the Garden Center At-Large position; Bill Swanekamp and Lorence Wenke were elected to the two open Grower At-Large positions; and John Herb was elected Ohio Florist director.

John Henry releases Catalog

John Henry has released its 2001-2002 Grower & Garden Center Catalog, filled with more than 1,300 new and redesigned products to improve brand identity and promote nursery and garden products.

"We are very excited about this catalog because it reaffirms our commitment to the important growing industry, and boldly announces our renewed and increased focus on retail garden centers," John Henry Marketing Manager Mac Faulkner said.

"For garden centers, we’ve created an upscale image that appeals to the garden shopper and have incorporated it in everything from area signs and seasonal banners to Flora-Cards," Faulkner said. "On the grower side, we’ve expanded our Image Collection of pre-made custom tag backgrounds and have added to our very popular family of Portrait Tags."

Some of the 15 new or redesigned product lines in the new catalog include area signs; Flora-Cards, including the addition of the 11 x 7 in. size; merchandising tags; 12 in. Dangler Trait tags with special plant features; garden wall calendar; customizable garden postcards; 40-page resealable garden book; and coordinating garden pamphlets.

To receive the free, 60-page catalog, contact your John Henry account manager, call the company toll-free at (800) 748-0517 or visit www.jhc.com.

Trademark counterfeiting practices threaten Pan American’s Wave products

It seems that not every petunia labeled as a Wave for home gardens this season is actually a Wave. Consumers familiar with the popular petunia could be in for a surprise this season when the petunias they’ve purchased don’t deliver the same bloom.

The successful Wave petunias from Pan American Seed (PAS) Company have been compromised this spring by the counterfeiting practices of some U.S. growers. PAS contacted the growers to rectify the situation and has determined that an industry-wide education campaign is needed.

"This is a very serious infraction that adversely affects everyone in the industry," noted Ben Walraven, director of sales for PAS. "Consumers purchase our Wave brand because it is a trusted product that delivers consistently excellent garden performance. When consumers are dissatisfied and return substandard plant material, the retailer is the first to hear about it."

In April 2001, PAS employees discovered that some retail garden centers across the country were unknowingly selling non-Wave products with Ride the Wave identifiers–tags, labels, or the pink pot. PAS employees were able to readily spot these counterfeit plants because they were not part of the Wave series of available colors or displayed very different habits. Currently the Wave colors include purple, pink, rose and misty lilac.

Plant for the Cure makes additions

Plant for the Cure, a program presented by Goldsmith Seeds benefiting the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation, added Hines Nurseries as a national sponsor and Imperial Nurseries as a regional sponsor as well as ‘Miracle Pink Splash’ Americana geranium to the program.

Hines Nurseries will offer a pink daylily, Hemerocallis ‘Suzy’, for distribution throughout PFTC retailers, while Imperial Nurseries will offer a pink flowering potentilla, ‘Pink Beauty’. Goldsmith, offers the geranium. Retailers are required to donate 10 percent of the plants’ sales to the foundation.

"Our part is twofold: directly contributing to the fight against this devastating disease, and supporting our retail independent channel with a national program that raises awareness while offering consumers an opportunity to contribute," said Kirsten Judd, vice president of marketing for Hines.

Imperial Nurseries is also happy to be a part of the program. "We are very excited to be taking part in such a worthy cause," explains Kevin Donahue, Imperial’s marketing manager. "Our initial feedback from our retail garden center customer base has been very favorable. We are looking forward to a very successful and ongoing relationship with the Plant for the Cure campaign."

Hines’ daylily is a lightly ruffled, three-inch blush with pink blooms, recurving petals and sepals along with a yellow-green throat. Imperial’s potentilla was a Naturally Impressive selection in 2001. The Miracle Pink Splash features a pastel pink flower with a darker pink eye. It is a compact grower, with medium green leaves.

To place an order for hemerocallis Suzy, contact your local Hines Nurseries sales professional at 1(800)444-4499. For the potentilla Pink Beauty, contact Imperial Nurseries at 1(800)950-6051. Americana Miracle Pink Splash can be ordered through a local grower or the program’s website, www.plantforthecure.net.

U.S.A. Floral Products, Inc. enters into agreement for sale of international division

U.S.A. Floral Products announced today that it has entered into an agreement for the sale of its international division, Florimex, with Deutsche Beteiligungs AG (DBAG), a European private equity firm, and certain DBAG affiliates. The agreement covers all of the company’s operations in Europe, Africa, Asia /and Latin America. The company and DBAG entered into a memorandum of understanding April 2, 2001.

On the same day, U.S.A. Floral Products, Inc., and 16 of its U.S. subsidiaries voluntarily filed for protection under chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code in the U.S. bankruptcy court for the District of Delaware. These filings did not affect Florimex.

The proposed sale of Florimex is subject to higher and better offers and to the bankruptcy court’s approval. According to Dwight Ferguson, president of Florimex, "The operations of Florimex continue to be self-sustaining and our lenders have been both helpful and supportive throughout the period of negotiations with DBAG. We now have in hand a signed sales agreement and, subject to the outcome of the auction process to be approved by the court, we should be able to complete a sale of the division by the end of the quarter. Once that is accomplished, Florimex should be positioned to move forward toward its full potential."

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