Central Coast Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-San Luis Obispo) is asking President Barack Obama to help California flower growers compete with competitors overseas, particularly Colombia, which, Capps says, “gained a significant competitive advantage in recent years due to U.S. trade policies.”
Capps’s request comes as the Obama Administration works on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
In her letter to the president, signed by other members of Congress, Capps writes that “California flower growers have produced the finest flowers in the world for decades, but have been seriously hurt in recent years by U.S. trade policies with Colombia.”
California produces the vast majority of American cut flowers, according to a Capps press release. More than 80 percent of domestically grown flowers are grown in California, accounting for 20 percent of all flowers sold in the U.S. and directly supporting more than 10,000 jobs, she wrote.“However,” she wrote, “the number of California’s flower farms is shrinking rapidly due to increasing imports from Colombia.”
“Colombia cut flower producers have received millions of dollars in subsidies from their government and millions of dollars in foreign assistance from the U.S. government over the past 10 years,” she wrote.
Capps wrote that Colombian exports to the U.S. increased 89 percent between 2002 and 2010, “resulting in a steep and rapid decline in the number of domestic flower growers.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, she wrote, the number of acres dedicated to cut flower production in the U.S. declined by 22 percent during the same period.