Where federal agencies buy their flowers might not seem like the kind of topic that would be likely to come up in Congress, but it has now been raised in not just one, but two bills.
Legislation was recently introduced in the Senate that would require federal agencies to buy their flowers in America. Specifically, it says it would “require that Federal agencies only procure cut flowers and cut greens grown in the United States…”
The American Grown Act (S. 3352) was introduced by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and is companion legislation to a bill that was introduced in the House last year by Congressman Don Young (R-AK).
The Alaska lawmakers have a vested interest in seeing more funds flow to their state vis-a-vis agencies buying flowers in America.
“Alaska has a burgeoning peony and flower industry that offers world-class blooms during our long, sunny summer growing season, and jobs and opportunities for Alaskans,” said Senator Sullivan. “There is no reason for our federal government to devote taxpayer dollars to foreign-grown flowers. We should use the buying power of our government to support hard-working domestic growers. America’s events, ceremonies and galas should be decorated with American flowers.”
Young also said that putting the requirement onto federal agencies would support and raise awareness for flower farmers.
Young is a member of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus. This is a group of House lawmakers that “was created to help address, support, and represent the economic interests and opportunities facing America’s flower farmers.”
It might seem surprising that there is a caucus in Congress for such a niche area, but as it turns out, there are many Congressional caucuses for almost any interest group you can imagine. Wikipedia has compiled a listing of caucuses as of June 2019 data (at the time of this writing). The topics vary widely, ranging from ready mixed concrete to algae to health issues to cybersecurity.
The Senate website defines a caucus as “An informal organization of members of the House or the Senate, or both, that exists to discuss issues of mutual concern and possibly to perform legislative research and policy planning for its members.”
As was the case with the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, these groups sometimes will introduce bills on related issues.