Another U.S. Industry Struggles As The White House Shops Abroad

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As U.S. flower growers continue to struggle in the global marketplace, the American flower lobby is trying to catch the attention of the Trump administration, who continues to purchase flowers for the White House from suppliers outside of the country, Quartz reports. Certified American Grown, which is a lobbyist group for the flower industry in the United States, has been in place since 2014, when it was established for the purpose of advocating in favor of the American flower industry.

The group primarily urges retailers, designers, and consumers to purchase domestically-grown flowers, making the case that local flowers are not only less expensive and more fresh, but also produced under superior conditions when it comes both to labor and the environment. Now they are making the case that the U.S. flower industry would benefit tremendously if the White House, perhaps the most influential residence in the country, led the way in making use of American blooms for its many displays.

The Trump administration is not the first to face such pressure, and previous presidents have generally failed in rising to the challenge of sticking with American blossoms. In 2014, for example, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden requested that the Obama administration begin using locally grown bouquets. The White House under Obama did indeed do so for a single state dinner with French President Francois Hollande, but did not make any effort to make purchasing American flowers a priority otherwise.

When Donald Trump was elected president, many American growers hoped that the new president’s unapologetic “America first” platform would make the administration more inclined to make use of U.S. flowers.

The idea was “a no-brainer,” according to Kasey Cronquist, head of Certified American Grown and the California Cut Flower Commission.

“I think if more citizens knew that the White House was displaying Colombian and Ecuadorian flowers, they would be shocked,” he said.

Growers’ groups dis manage to secure meetings with representatives from the White House, but the effort so far has been fruitless. The White House has so far only committed to considering the idea and has expressed no plans regarding shifting to domestic flower purchases.

Regardless, the flower impasse is nothing new, nor is it anything that can necessarily be pinned on Trump, Obama, or any other president in recent memory. In fact, it was 1961 when the U.S. Agency for International Development helped the country of Colombia develop a flower industry as part of broader efforts to combat communism around the world. As a result, Colombia has been exporting flowers to the U.S. ever since.