Fresh Thoughts: My Most Popular Slide
This past week provided me with a tremendous opportunity to start my year out in the field.
Like many of you, I have a lot on my desk that could keep me in the office, but once I’m on the road, meeting with growers and walking the fields, there isn’t a priority more important than what I’m doing at that moment.
Invited to speak at both the Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference in Savannah, Georgia, and the North Carolina Blueberry Council’s 54th Annual Open House and Trade Show, I took the opportunity to introduce myself, discuss some of the changes underway and explain what both NABC and USHBC are doing to serve the industry and help grow demand and address supply.
For both programs, I shared a similar PowerPoint slide deck and found that in both cases, one slide seemed to steal the show. At least it was the slide the most people discussed with me after the presentations.
It wasn’t the industry’s production statistics.
It wasn’t our recent heart health research work.
It wasn’t even the overview of the $7 million of program work we’ll be executing in 2020.
It was the slide that explained the difference between NABC and USHBC.
That’s right! The explanation of why the blueberry industry needs to take their membership and involvement in the work of NABC seriously really seemed to resonate with people.
Because USHBC’s funding cannot be used to help our growers with lobbying on legislative and regulatory issues.
Many of the things I’ve been hearing that growers want to see the USHBC working on or addressing simply aren’t things USHBC is able to do or address as a federal promotion and research program that’s authorized through USDA. USHBC must stay focused on its mandated purpose to consumer promotions, market and fund research.
That’s where NABC comes in (and has always been).
Unfortunately, USHBC’s success and growth has largely overshadowed the NABC’s purpose and mission. Leaving growers to ask, “If I am already paying for one, why would I pay more for the other?”
Because they’re not the same tool.
The NABC is the only tool dedicated to the blueberry industry to advocate for legislation, fight burdensome regulation and be at the table for trade access negotiations. The NABC is responsible for making sure lawmakers and regulators understand the value the blueberry industry brings to the economy and their communities.
That one slide seemed to speak to everyone in the room regarding just how important it is that the industry not only has the promotion and research tool in USHBC helping grow demand, but also the NABC making sure we have a healthy business environment for growth to continue.
I encouraged our growers who have expectations of focused work in the areas of trade, labor, regulatory affairs, etc., to invest in NABC. The blueberry industry needs the NABC, and the NABC needs a lot more blueberry growers, suppliers, service providers and stakeholders to join the organization to get those jobs done.
We need to double the size of NABC in 2020! If you know of a person or company that’s not a member of NABC, forward them this email and invite them to be a part of working together to find solutions.
P.S. A big thank you to NABC Vice Chair Ken Patterson and his team at Island Grove Nursery for their support in helping us get into the show in Savannah. And thank you to USHBC Chair Chris Barnhill for the tour of blueberry production in North Carolina and wonderful hospitality during my visit.
Here are some more photos of my time in Georgia and North Carolina: