Spring is Here: Are Your Flowers Made in USA?
The Guardian reports that only 20% of cut flowers sold in the United States are grown here. In 1991 that number was 64%. So what happened? Another Trade Agrement that was bad for America.
1991 was the same 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.
Colombia, in particular, quickly flooded the American market with cheap, duty-free cut flowers, devastating the U.S. industry, especially in California, which supplied 75 percent of the nation’s cut flowers before the passage of the ATPA. Once home to more than 500 flower farmers, the state claims just 200 today. Colombia is now the source of 78 percent of cut-flower imports to this country. An additional 15 percent come from Ecuador, with Africa, China, and Europe making up the difference.
And while we lost most of our flower jobs in the USA, did this trade agreement help the war on drugs?
The good news to this story is that in 2013 a group of flower farmers established a “Certified American Grown” task force, and in 2014, with the help of Made in USA Certified, Inc., to create Certified American Grown labels, which appear on some bouquets that are sold in Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and other stores across the country.
To find florists who use only Certified American Grown flowers, visit www.SlowFlowers.com.