Oregon is a diverse place with mountains and coastline, high deserts and fertile valleys.
The nurseries that dot the Oregon map are just as diverse. Liner production, reforestation, cut flowers, Christmas trees, retail, and large specimen growers are just some of the categories represented, and our people are just as diverse as our products.
Oregonians have a reputation for blazing their own trails. It goes back to Oregon Trail pioneers who sought more bountiful lives. You can see the individuality in the way we grow, too. No two nurseries are alike.
But for all our differences, our interest in a successful and viable industry brings us together. The OAN sets that table and allows us to come together en masse.
More than ever, it is imperative that we join together. State legislators in Salem have passed a tax on gross receipts that unfairly hurts low-margin businesses. Next, they are looking at a carbon tax that will push our freight and heating costs skyward. Such bills have real impacts on any nursery’s bottom line.
We need to have a seat at that table. Our collective voice can help shape the conversation and enlighten legislators to the real-world effects these bills will have on nurseries, nursery suppliers, and agriculture in general.
Nationally, 2020 is a huge presidential election year. The field of candidates is diverse and wide. The political inclinations of our members are probably equally so. We don’t have to agree on the candidates. What we do agree on — and push for — is reasonable immigration reform, restricting unneeded regulation, and funding support for research for plant health and diseases. Our goals are much more closely aligned than can be conveyed in a 30-second soundbite or a clickbait headline.
The interaction we share as humans is important. According to social scientist and researcher Robert D. Putnam, participating in social activities, such as a club or organization, will cut in half your chances of dying in the next year. Unfortunately, as prevailing societal trends show, many behaviors that signify person-to-person connections are on the decline. There’s been a 58 percent drop in attending meetings, a 43 percent drop in family dinners and a 35 percent drop in having friends over.
These astounding findings show why making connections is important. It’s not a huge leap to say what’s healthy for you will also be for your business.
Speaking of business health, we can help your bottom line financially. The OAN offers members valuable savings through its health insurance program and various other discounts, including bulk fuel, office supplies, trade show booths, advertising and more.
The OAN — through chapter meetings, open houses Farwest, Convention and single-issue gatherings we call “road shows,” provides early information on trends, operational challenges, regulatory threats, pest and disease issues and more.
Together, we use our influence to stifle unfair bills. A great example of this last one was a few years back when the OAN lobbied hard to stop the taxation of greenhouses as real property and won. I think of this every day we work in our greenhouses. I think of this every day I drive by my neighbor’s new greenhouse range. These are real dollars that would have stopped expansion or created a cost barrier where startup nurseries would flounder.
We are in a similar place today as we start this new year. As a group, we can stand together on the issues we feel strong about. It’s time to begin, restart, or renew our membership with the OAN so we can lean on each other for support, information, and help.
We are a group of individuals with separate businesses, plans, and ideals. But we can come together under the OAN umbrella and meet at what we all think is important, keeping Oregon’s Nursery Country viable and strong.