Target: U.S. Congress
Goal: Protect Northwest flower growers and the U.S. flower industry from Colombian competition, and enforce stricter working condition standards for importing flower farms.
Flower growers in the United States have been struggling due to competition from flowers imported from Colombia. The U.S. Government has been helping Colombian farmers grow and sell flowers in the U.S. market as an incentive to convert coca farms to flower production. The Colombia Free Trade Agreement gives Colombian growers an advantage in the flower market, while health, labour and environmental standards are ignored. Meanwhile, flower farms, particularly in the Northwestern United States, cannot compete and are failing at an alarming rate.
Washington and California are two of the United State’s top flower producers, but growers predict that their entire industry will collapse if nothing is done. The federal government has spent millions through the War on Drugs to convert coca farms to flower farms in Colombia. Last year the free-trade agreement with Colombia passed, reinforcing this effort, but making flowers grown thousands of miles away cheaper than those grown locally. Flower growers throughout the Northwest and the rest of the country have united in order to find production and marketing solutions. But without help from the government, they must depend on conscious consumers, and there is little hope that will be enough.
While U.S. flower growers struggle, Colombian workers are perhaps even worse off due to extremely low health and environmental standards, abusive superiors, and prohibition of unions. Workers on flower farms are exposed to incredibly toxic, dangerous pesticides. The majority of these workers face serious long term health problems, in addition to unlivable wages, poor conditions, and abuse. Unsurprisingly, coca production continues in Colombia; coca and flowers have largely replaced food production due to the interference of the United States.
Please request that Congress take action by reworking the U.S. Agreement with Colombia, ensuring that health, environmental and labour rights standards are raised significantly. Further, support flower growers in the Northwest and across the U.S by ensuring that local flowers regain their due share of the market, so that the U.S. Flower growing legacy can continue to thrive.
Dear Washington Congresswoman Jeannie Darneille,
Flower growers in Northwestern states are in danger of failure due to competition from flowers imported from Colombia. The advantage given to the latter by the U.S government not only hurts U.S growers and the flower industry, but is disastrous for Colombian farm workers. Congress needs to make serious changes to the agreement with Colombia.
In an attempt to stop Colombian farmers from growing coca, the U.S replaced these farms with flowers and gave Colombia a huge advantage in the U.S flower market. As a result, workers on these Colombian farms are heavily exploited, health and environmental standards are very low or nonexistent, and U.S flower growers are increasingly put out of business.
Flower Growers in the United States and workers on Colombian flower farms are suffering because of the Colombian Free Trade Agreement which went into effect last year. Please take action to support flower growers who cannot compete with flower imports by reworking the economic agreement with Colombia to include strict health, environmental and labour standards on farms if they are to import to the U.S; and ensure that in the U.S market, local flowers gain the market advantage so that flower growers can survive and supply Americans with home-grown flowers.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: mrJasonWeaver via Flickr