The Blueberry Industry Rallies Together In Washington, D.C.
|For the first time ever, the NABC hosted an industry “Hill Climb” in Washington, D.C., calling on Representatives and Senators to sign onto resolutions declaring July as “National Blueberry Month” and sharing NABC’s other key policy concerns. |
The day-long event included over 120 members of the NABC who visited 70 offices on Capitol Hill, holding 27-member level meetings; a meeting with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue; and concluding with a well-attended “Red, White and Blueberry” reception.
|“This was a first for our organization,” explained recently appointed NABC Chair Ken Patterson of Island Grove Ag Products in Florida. “And our members did a fantastic job, working together and raising the profile of our blueberry industry with lawmakers. Each and every meeting made a difference.”|
In addition to calling on members of Congress to support National Blueberry Month, delegations meeting with their members encouraged support for immigration reform, fair and favorable trade policy and prioritizing speciality crop program funding in the Farm Bill.
“The response we’ve received from members and their staff has been outstanding,” shared NABC President Kasey Cronquist. “They loved hearing from our industry, and our National Blueberry Month resolutions enjoy bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. Everyone loves blueberries.”
In advance of the event, participants received advocacy training from Prime Advocacy and talking points from the NABC to help unite the blueberry industry’s voice on Capitol Hill. And on March 3 and March 4, the House and Senate introduced resolutions seeking to declare July National Blueberry Month. House Resolution 882 was sponsored by Congressmen Fred Upton (R-MI) and Sanford Bishop (D-GA). Senate Resolution 528 was sponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
“This is something we need to consider doing every year,” said NABC member Shelly Hartmann of True Blue Farms in Grand Junction, Michigan. “I was so encouraged by what we were able to accomplish by working together.”
Another Hill Climb participant, John Johnston, senior director of product leadership at Driscolls, added, “It was probably the best day we’ve ever had together as members of NABC. We discussed critically important industry issues directly with members of Congress, we lobbied for making July National Blueberry Month, and we built lasting personal connections with each other by working in small groups. It will be hard to top this day!”