“Thank you.” These two words are so often underused, but I have chosen to start out this month’s column by using them for a specific reason.
It has been such an honor to serve as president of the Oregon Association of Nurseries for the past year. Thank you to all of the staff members and volunteers who put in countless hours supporting our association. Most of all, thank you to all of our members.
Our industry has always faced challenges. However, our ability to work together is strong, and we benefit greatly from an issue-oriented approach to the issues that affect our industry, mainly in the political world. As a result, we have had success with many of these issues.
This year, the Oregon Legislature passed our top legislative priority, which was the driver’s license bill. This bill allows the option to get a license without proof of legal status, provided the applicant can prove that they live here, and that they can drive safely.
As our industry evolves, so does our leadership. At our annual OAN Convention November 1–2 in Hood River, Jim Simnitt of Simnitt Nursery will be installed as our president for 2019–20. I will join the list of past presidents that have done their time in supporting our industry.
I am really excited about the current and future leadership of the OAN, though I know we will continue to face challenges. The need to control boxwood blight is one that comes to mind; another is maintaining our customers’ confidence that they are receiving the highest quality plant material in the nation. We will also be very busy on the political front both in Oregon and nationally, working through solutions that will help and not hurt our industry.
Next year’s legislative session threatens to pose a slew of new taxes and regulations. Now more than ever, we need to support our Oregon Nursery Political Action Committee (ONPAC). I urge you to get involved. Please reach out to us if you are unsure how you can help.
As I reflect back on the last year, some of my personal highlights are lobbying for our industry back in Washington, D.C., and attending Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s ceremonial signing of the driver’s license bill. It was so gratifying to see that bill go over the finish line. The governor thanked the OAN specifically, giving us credit for getting the bill through the Legislature and in front of her for her signature.
Another highlight was learning this month that Oregon’s nurseries and greenhouses have reached a major milestone with almost $1 billion in annual sales. At the 2019 Farwest Show, there was a great buzz about how promising the future looks for the industry. I know the “R word” — recession — is out there looming, but the overall health of our members seems to be strong, and they have a ready and optimistic outlook for the future.
Again — thank you to everyone in our industry, and most of all, a huge “thank you” to my wife Kirstin and daughter Lola — I could not do it without you!
Good luck, everyone. I hope you know we are a strong industry, and we are even stronger when we all work together. We are the Oregon Association of Nurseries (plural) for a reason — let’s support the organization that supports the industry. Thanks.