Stepping out from ‘behind the scenes’

November 11, 2008
Written by
The term “behind the scenes” applies to work done with little fanfare, but usually with significant results. The actors may draw the applause, but every theatre production involves dozens of people working just as hard “behind the scenes” whose names don’t appear on the marquee. Their work, while essential, often goes unnoticed.

Our industry also has great star power, products that truly shine in the marketplace. Premium produce and awesome ornamentals consistently draw rave reviews. The Canadian greenhouse sector is one of the few horticulture sectors that exports. While the past season or two have been challenging, in general the greenhouse community has far more strengths than weaknesses.

If there is an Achilles heel, it’s the often lukewarm support for the associations that do so much work “behind the scenes.” Every region has grower groups, and their work is as essential as it is often unheralded.

We’ll use Flowers Canada (Ontario) as a good example.

In September, the provincial government officially designated Flowers Canada (Ontario) Inc., to represent the interests of approximately 350 greenhouse floriculture growers in the province. Growers with 20,000 square feet or more of specified products will pay a mandatory check-off fee.

For too many years, FCO had to rely on voluntary support from growers to fund its operations. And many companies stepped up to the plate, helping support FCO and its growing number of initiatives. These include a product promotional campaign (Pick Ontario), human resource strategies, border issues (international trade), minor use pesticide applications, research projects, an industry financial and operational benchmarking study, a business risk analysis project, and government lobbying campaigns, to name only a few.

FCO’s most recent accomplishment, it’s important to note, will eventually benefit growers across Canada.

Earlier this fall, Ontario floriculture producers were given access to the Advance Payment Program of the Farm Finance Division of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. FCO, on behalf of Flowers Canada Growers, worked in partnership with ACC Farmers Financial in Guelph, Ontario – with valuable input on pricing from Ontario Flower Growers Co-op and United Flower Growers Co-op in British Columbia – to develop a proposal resulting in access to this key program. This program will soon be available to greenhouse flower growers across Canada and will be delivered by ACC Financial.

This latest initiative will hopefully encourage regional grower groups to involve themselves with Flowers Canada Growers. The national industry needs a strong, unified voice. It’s the best way to ensure growers get their share of government programs, such as the Advance Payment Program. Ottawa is much more receptive to industry lobbying and requests if it knows the delegation speaks for most growers across Canada.

On the political stage, there’s a lot of work that goes on “behind the scenes.”

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