Over the past two weeks, I’ve received a number of calls, voicemails, emails and even a couple of letters from NABC members and some non-members regarding their concerns with the state of the blueberry industry.
There’s good reason to be concerned and even frustrated.
Between domestic production and import supply, our NABC area representatives are predicting the largest “pile” of blueberries the industry has ever seen for the U.S. market in 2020.
Unfortunately, the growth of the pile is outpacing the growth of market demand, and everyone understands the challenging dynamics this creates.
In fact, if you’ve been in agriculture for very long, you’ve seen this movie before.
What can be done? What’s NABC’s role? What can NABC do about what’s happening?
In short time I’ve had to get up to speed and meet with people about these changes and challenges, it’s become clear that the next steps and the expectations our farmers and members have for what needs to be done by the NABC or otherwise is not clear or unanimous.
There are a lot of opinions, but there’s not yet clear consensus on next steps.
However, we’re listening.
Going forward, the NABC will take an active role in leading the national discussion to get the clarity needed to unify the industry’s collective interests on what needs to happen next.
This won’t be easy.
To get started, the NABC is simultaneously taking two active steps:
- Establishing a strategic framework for NABC
- Over the next several months, the NABC will be embarking on a professionally facilitated process to outline the organization’s strategic direction going forward. We’ve hired Jim DeLizia of Delizia Consulting Services to assist us with the development of this framework. This process will culminate during the meetings scheduled for March in Washington, D.C.
- Reconstituting the NABC’s Legislative Committee
- In the absence of a comprehensive strategic plan from the board, the Legislative Committee has been reconstituted by committee chair Ken Patterson and will be meeting to discuss and decide how to best lead a national conversation to help organize and address the seriousness of the situation at hand.
In one of the letters we received, a farmer suggested that, considering the circumstances, “perhaps some re-thinking” was needed.
Now we just need to get everyone’s thoughts, feelings and opinions on the table to help determine what’s possible.
I’m looking forward to working with our Legislative Committee, the board, our area representatives and state associations to help coordinate this national industry discussion.
It’s also timely that the NABC and USHBC’s spring meetings will be in Washington, D.C., in March. The opportunity to gather in our nation’s capital at that time will be important and I encourage you to consider attending.
In the meantime, keep sending your letters and emails. Feel free to call me, chair Tom Bodtke or legislative chair Ken Patterson directly.
To make connecting as easy as possible, you can schedule a videoconference with me by simply clicking here: https://calendly.com/blueberrypresident/nabc-freshthoughts-1-1s.
You can also hit “reply.”
Your thoughts, feelings and concerns are not lost on me and will be shared and considered as we move forward.
P.S. On a lighter note, I hope everyone was able to enjoy Halloween yesterday. As a family, we pounded the pavement pretty hard last night to bring in that motherload of candy for the kids. I didn’t win any costume contests with the creativity involved with my costume choice this year, but my kids loved it and it seemed appropriate. Have a great weekend!
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