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PLANET: Legislative Issues 2008

The Professional Landcare NetworkOs Tom Delaney reviews issues that will be on the government calendar in 2008.






By Tom Delaney, Legislative Affairs Director Photo courtesy of Tom Delaney


Expansion of the Clean Water Act
H.R. 2421, the OClean Water Restoration Act of 2007,O has been introduced to expand the definition of waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act. Currently, the act has been interpreted to cover navigable waters. The proposed expansion would include ditches and low-lying field areas, storm drains, even gutters. This would have a detrimental effect on landscape maintenance in these new areas.

H-2B legislation
Passing H-2B legislation each year has become more and more difficult. Next year is no exception. Labor unions and legal services groups have gotten involved and are supporting provisions that would render the H-2B program useless. If we are successful with passage next year, it may once again be a short-term fix. PLANET continues to try and keep the program as viable as possible. Become involved and utilize PLANETOs H-2B Toolkit at www.landcarenetwork.org.

Social Security No-Match Letter Litigation
In a positive development for the green industry, on Oct. 11, 2007, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the AdministrationOs Social Security No-Match Rule because of the ruleOs potential for Oirreparable harm to innocent workers and employers.O U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer of San Francisco said that the plaintiffs N which included both industry and labor groups N raised significant questions about the legality of the AdministrationOs plan to mail Social Security Ono-matchO letters to 140,000 U.S. employers.

Under the regulations, once employers receive a no-match letter, they must resolve questions about their employeesO identities or fire them within 90 days. Employers could face severe fines and even criminal penalties if they fail to act within 90 days.

In his decision, Breyer cited the numerous errors in the Social Security database that could lead to the unjustified firing of American citizens. He also said that the government may have ignored its obligation under the Regulatory Flexibility Act to analyze the impact of the rule on small businesses. This action should slow the governmentOs actions for many months. The Small Business Administration filed a brief in support of our position. Also, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, wrote the Secretary of Homeland Security supporting our position.

Landscape Practice Acts
The American Society of Landscape Architects has a national agenda that would limit landscape design to licensed landscape architects only. The legislation, referred toEas the Landscape Practice Act, states that standards are needed to protect public health. This legislation has occurred in many states to the dismay of many landscape contractors.
E
Fertilizer and Water Quality
There continues to be activity on mostly phosphorus but in some places all fertilizer in the form of regulations in several states including Florida, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as in Canada. This activity is mostly at the local level and is a major concern, not only because of what it may require of applicators but how it might escalate. State pre-emption has occurred in many states and continues to be a vehicle to keep the regulations at the state level or with a model state regulation. The 13 states currently with fertilizer pre-emption are Iowa, Indiana, South Carolina, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kansas, Idaho, Georgia, Ohio, South Dakota, Kentucky, Virginia, and Arkansas. Wisconsin and Michigan are working to implement it. Be good stewards by taking soil samples for nutrient needs and keeping product off pavement and other impervious areas.

Endangered Species Protection Program
EPA has updated and redesigned its Endangered Species Protection Program web site to make it easier to find relevant information about the program and to reflect enforceable limitations on pesticides that will be put in place through its Endangered Species Protection Program (ESPP).E
Visit epa.gov/espp.

Pesticide Registration
Recently, the House passed legislation (S. 1983) to reauthorize the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA) for five years.EThe bill now goes to the President for his signature. It benefits applicators by extending PRIA beyond 2008, which means that pesticide registrants will be able to continue to register and bring new products to the market in a reasonable and predictable period of time.EThe legislation also sets aside $500,000 per year for five years for the Pesticide Safety Education Program.E

Environmental Protection Agency Update Pesticide Container Recycling
PLANET has supported pesticide manufacturers in a letter asking EPA to publish a proposed rule on pesticide container recycling. Through the Agricultural Container Recycling Council (ARC), pesticide manufacturers have invested $50 million over the last 15 years and have recycled 90 million pounds of plastic. The requirement would be voluntary for applicators in our industry.

Building a PLANET-wide Industry Coalition






By Tanya Tolpegin, PLANET CEO
Photo courtesy of PLANET


At all levels, we seem to be hearing more about the benefits of forming partnerships. Some partnerships, including those that service providers have with their biggest and best customers and suppliers, are the result of people trying to better understand each otherOs needs and finding ways to more effectively meet them.

PLANET has also been building partnering relationships?with suppliers, state associations, and other green industry associationsNfor quite some time. Partnering adds value in other ways, too. One of PLANETOs new partners, the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), joined forces with us this year at our Legislative Day on the Hill event.

Why the growing emphasis on forming partnerships? Why is PLANET striving to form strategic relationships? We can pool our resources and ideas with other groups to create even more opportunities and a brighter future.

It makes sense to join hands strategically with organizations with similar goals. A case in point, weOre not the only service industry in need of a fair immigration policy and/or a stable guest-worker program. Joining with others who have similar needs presents a stronger front and gives all of us a better chance for success. Safety is another major industry concern, and PLANET has partnered with the following groups on several safety initiatives:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We are in the third year of a significant alliance with OSHA that encourages members to be proactive with safety.

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). PLANET is partnering with NIOSH to provide more safety resources for the industry.

State associations. Several state associations have stepped forward in support of training initiatives and to offer additional safety resources.






A PLANET volunteer spread lime to help balance pH at Arlington National Cemetery in July. The volunteers brought in 170 cubic yards of fertilizer and more than 100 pieces of equipment to tend the 600-plus acre cemetery. The supplies and hours totaled close to $250,000.


Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). We are partnering with TCIA to offer member pricing for TCIA-produced safety resources as well as a reciprocal offer to its members.

Industry Suppliers. Husqvarna has been a strong PLANET partner with safety and other initiatives for many years. Its support of the STARS Safe Company Program and the Safety Recognition Awards program is instrumental to their success.

CNA Insurance. CNA is the co-founder of the STARS program and the Safety Recognition Awards program. In addition, CNA also sponsors the OSHA 10-hour course at PLANETOs Green Industry Conference and provides safety training at other PLANET events.

Finally, and maybe most important of all the reasons to partner, is that doing so increases the one PLANET member benefit that outshines all others N networking. We look forward to expanding our relationships with green industry groups to deliver more for our membership and for the industry.

American Nursery & Landscape Association






By Bob Dolibois, Executive Vice President
Photo courtesy of ANLA


When I joined the industry as ANLAOs chief staff executive in 1991, a major driver behind the industryOs growth was DIY, or Do It Yourself.

DIY was touted as the universal slogan of the Baby Boomers. This renegade generation, which grew up distrusting reigning institutions and their expert elders, just naturally thought they could do everything better themselvesEincluding home repair and landscaping. Industry retailers and the new Ohome centersO thrived as Americans converted from sedans to trucks and SUVs in order to haul more stuff home to work with.

As the years passed and the Boomers got wiser, richer and experienced morning stiffness, their inclinations shifted from DIY to DIFM, or Do It For Me. This shift brought exponential growth to the landscape industry sector, particularly maintenance, at some expense to the retail sector.

This landscape sector growth has led to remarkable success stories and some high-profile consolidations. It has also spawned an aggressive demand for additional seasonal workers that cannot be met by the native-born workforce and the limited avenues currently available for legal immigration to meet the demand.

Challenges
ANLA and its partner industry associations have worked intensely to change the immigration and guest worker laws to meet the reality of todayOs workforce marketplace. Failure to fix this broken system will drive some legitimate employers to go illegitimate, and others to simply plateau or shrink their businesses.

Meanwhile, the Boomers continue to age and are thinking about their mortality, their legacy and their young grandchildren. This generational transition is leading to a growing interest in environmentalismNframed in terms of their own physical and emotional wellness, and future generations.

As our landscape industry continues to mature, you can expect to see the emergence of a new trend: DIBDID. This stands for Do It But Do It Differently. This trend is gaining speed rapidly and expresses itself in multiple and challenging ways.

I want a beautiful landscape that needs less water. I want a defect-free landscape that is not dependent on chemicals. I want the work done for me, but not by workers who donOt look like me or use equipment that makes fumes and noise. Most of all, do not raise your prices.

YeahEDo It, But Do It Differently.
Is this trend happening all over and in every market? No. You can bet that there will always be a market for the shortest-distance-between-two-points. That market continues to drive our economy and should not be handicapped. Better Faster Cheaper has resulted in unprecedented prosperity and lifestyle comfort to an incredibly broad segment of our population.

That said, things do change. Some of todayOs trends will become tomorrowOs staples. DIBDID may be such a trend. Successful businesses will be made by adopting and adapting to the changes this trend suggests. If the past is prologue to the future, then many early-adapters can make these changes and actually price them at a premium.

Need some help changing? Continue to read articles in the trade press and, for a jump-start, participate in ANLAOs Management Clinic in February.

For details visit: www.managementclinic.org.

ANLA Institute Awards Scholarships
The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), the research division of the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA), has awarded the 2007 N $1,500 Usrey Family Scholarship to Colin S. McKim of Escondido, Calif.

Colin McKim
Colin McKim is a sophomore at California Polytechnic State University in San Louis Obispo, Calif. He is majoring in Environmental Horticultural Science. McKim graduated from San Pasqual High School where he was Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter president during his senior year and responsible for the FFA ornamental plant production project. McKim has a keen interest in the nursery and landscape industry and after graduation he hopes to become a manager in a nursery or greenhouse production facility.






Colin McKim


Susie and Bruce Usrey of Monrovia Growers Inc. in Azusa, Calif. established the Usrey Family Scholarship in 2001. The Usrey family considers graduating students in horticulture to be the lifeblood of the green industry. The scholarship is awarded annually to horticulture students enrolled in a California state university or college.

HRI was established in 1962 as the research arm of ANLA. HRIOs mission is to direct, fund, promote and communicate horticultural research, which increases the quality and value of ornamental plants, improves the productivity and profitability of the nursery and landscape industry, and protects and enhances the environment.

Thomas Saunders, Jr.
HRI has awarded the 2007 Carville M. Akehurst Memorial Scholarship of $2,000 to Thomas N. Saunders, Jr. of Piney River, Va.Thomas Saunders, Jr. is a senior at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) where he is majoring in horticulture with an emphasis in landscape contracting. He is also pursuing a minor in small business management. Saunders graduated from Nelson County High School in Lovingston, Va.

Sauders has worked within the nursery industry for many years at his family business, Saunders Brothers, Inc. in Piney River, and also as an intern at Carolina Nurseries in Moncks Corner, S.C.






Thomas Saunders, Jr.


Texas Nursery & Turfgrass Association: Year-end Comments








Eddy D. Edmondson President, Texas Nursery & Landscape Association


Summer of 2007 was an unusual season in Texas, for a change, no area of the state was in official drought designation. Texans know that isnOt the norm here, and work on water quantity and quality issues is a continuous process. Texas adopted a statewide water awareness program, Water IQ, in which the industry will be cooperating over the next few years. TNLA supported creation of this program, which is based on the research-supported premise that the first step in water conservation is teaching the public where their water comes from, hence the name, Water IQ.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), our agency charged with protecting the environment, received a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address the quality of water running off our urban areas into storm sewers. The focus is on education of homeowners through a program called YardWise. TCEQ has enforcement powers, but they are hoping to address the issue of non-point source pollution through education.

Housing Trends
Trends in the housing industry have everyone a little nervous, but Texas has fared better in this area than most states, partly due to the natural flow of people to the Sunbelt. This is one of those trends, like the weather, that we track but know we canOt control.

Issues related to plant and pest invaders of the natural flora and fauna, as well as threats to crops, are increasingly important here. TexasO large borders are hard to monitor and the industry has been working with the Texas Department of Agriculture in establishing appropriate inspection, tracking, and as a last resort quarantine programs. Our new Commissioner of Agriculture, Todd Staples, is from a horticulture background and the industry has seen the benefits of his awareness of the importance of the green industry to the economy of Texas.

TNLA cooperated with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in producing the Second Semi-annual Invasive Species Seminar, an open forum of scientific paper presentation, discussion by stakeholders, and public education. Our size makes addressing OinvasivesO challenging, because there is really no way of categorizing any plant OnativeO across the state.

TNLA took part in forming a Texas coalition that came to be a model followed in several other states to deal with the hysteria around immigration issues. Texas Employers for Immigration Reform (TEIR) was diligent during the 2007 legislative session (TexasO legislature meets every other year) and prevented passage of anti-business legislation styled as immigration reform. Without a doubt, the issue of immigration reform, and revision of the H2-A and H2-B regulations remain at the top of TNLAOs Oto-do listO in 2008.

Texas Legislative and Regulatory Update






By Jim Reaves, TNLA Director of Legislative & Regulatory Affairs


The Texas Legislative Session lasts 140 days every odd numbered year. During the 2007 session (January 9 to May 28) there were over 6,000 pieces of legislation filed, and of those 1,400 passed.

The green industry is addressing our labor issues in Texas in part by working with partners in enhancing career and technology class opportunities in Texas schools. We were successful in adding language that will fund career and technology classes (agriculture and horticulture classes) down to the 8th grade level in five school districts.

The immigration issue slipped into a simple thing like driverOs licensing and TNLA pushed for the passage of a bill which would allow H2-A and H2-B workers from countries other than Mexico and Canada to obtain a commercial driverOs license .

Water conservation through mandated irrigation controllers took front stage at times during session. TNLA believes in water conservation, as long as one technology is not specified in statute or administrative rules. These bills ultimately failed to be passed.

There were numerous bills dealing with mulch regulations filed this session in reaction to a fire at a facility in Helotes, Texas. Although the fires which burned for over a month were compost fires, they were not related to a nursery/landscape business. However, the regulations outlined in these bills could have been harmful to parts of our industry. Fortunately we were able to work with authors of one bill to get an acceptable comprise language that wasnOt harmful to the nursery/landscape industry.






TNLA Chairman Charles Britton (left) and vice president Amy Graham (right) present Steve Taber and Adrian Muehlenberg (with hat) with the Medium Greenline Booth Award at this summerOs gathering in Dallas.
Photos courtesy of TNLA


Cactus Pricklies
Our cactus producers were startled to see a second attempt to pass a desert plant documentation law. Framers of these proposals are trying to protect endangered cacti. Unfortunately, they are not familiar with plant nomenclature, or laws currently on the books that make traffic in these plants illegal. They continue to purpose laws that would require all desert plants to have documentation of their source of origin. Texas Department of Agriculture would have had to issue certificates for every 25 desert plants grown and shipped. Fines ran up to $1,000, imprisonment up to 180 days in jail, or both for each count. We were able to keep this one from making it through the legislature.

Each legislative session, TNLA continues to protect our landscapersO right to design. This is a legislative priority for the Green Industry and these issues and others will continue to be on our radar screen.

California Landscape Contractors Association






By Peter Estournes, CLCA President, Gardenworks Inc.
photo courtesy of Peter Estournes


The California Landscape Contractors Association has been active and successful on a variety of fronts in 2007.

To help contractors and other green industry professionals meet the growing demand for water savings, CLCAOs Resource Management Committee has been working on the development of a new Water Management Certification Program. The program is now finalized and is designed as a practical, profitable solution with a simple goal: to train water managers to provide customers with good-to-excellent landscape appearance using the right amount of water based on actual plant requirements. What differentiates this program is that it is performance-based. To be fully certified, a contractor must manage at least one project at or below a water budget for one year.

Members are recognizing the value of the program. OCLCAOs Water Management Certification Program is very thorough. OA good track record with water management produces quantified results, which you can show to clients as proof of their benefits in doing business with you. Water savings is a trend that will impact landscape businesses more and more as time goes on,O said Flavio Velez, president of LandGraphics of San Diego.






This installation (Landscapes By Jeffrey of Calabassas, Calif.) took the Stuart J. Sperber Memorial Sweepstakes Award at this yearOs CLCA annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn. The award memorializes the late ValleyCrest co-founder, who passed away earlier this year.
Photo: www.clca.org


Outdoor Grill Victory

The association also successfully gained passage of legislation focusing on outdoor kitchens. In August, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Assembly Bill 711, which allows a licensed landscape contractor to execute a prime contract for a residential landscape project that includes an outdoor cooking center or freestanding fireplace. CLCA sponsored the measure. Assembly Member Bill Emmerson (R-Redlands) authored it.

OThis is an important victory for landscape contractors and a real benefit to our clients,O said Pete Navarro, the chairman of CLCAOs Legislation Committee. OCongratulations to everyone who worked on this legislation as well as those who wrote supportive letters to the governor.O
The association was also active on the immigration front. CLCA is extremely disappointed that Congress was incapable of moving forward with a bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill this summer. Association leaders predict that eventually, however, the nation will have to come to grips with the need to address our immigration problem in a comprehensive way. CLCA will be at the table for its members when that time comes.

Seeking to promote the future of the green industry, CLCA awarded 13 scholarships to students at two and four-year institutions. Each student has displayed exemplary academic achievements, and CLCA is proud to help them pursue careers in the green industry. CLCAOs scholarships are funded through its (LEAF) Landscape Educational Advancement Foundation. Application is open statewide to students pursuing degrees in horticulture at community colleges and four-year universities.

The association held several all-star events this year, including a leadership summit starring famed basketball coach John Wooden, a well-attended Landscape Industry ShowNthe largest on the West CoastNand a stunning summer meeting in the Sonoma wine country. Members were enthusiastic and excited about these meetings, and about the CLCA end-of the-year convention and trophy award ceremony, which was held in Nashville, Tenn. in November.

FloridaOs FNGLA: Way to Go in 2007!






From a speech by Ben Bolusky, executive vice president of the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association
Photo courtesy of FNGLA


Trade association gurus around the nation often say you need a prescription to ensure association success. Well, there are as many prescriptions as there are gurus. One year ago at this meeting, I spoke about one of the prescriptions that I do, in fact, hold dear: values, vision and voice. I wish to lay out another prescription for association success.It also has three fundamental components: presence, performance and prominence. And, given FloridaOs track record with hurricanes, maybe I should add a fourth N prayers!

Our prescriptionOs first ingredient is Opresence.O ThatOs the easiest. We have it. FNGLA has presence throughout Florida with our local chapters, our satellite Tallahassee office and our Orlando headquarters. When we participate in industry-related meetings or meet with UF/IFAS, FNGLA has presence. When we stage cutting-edge educational forums, FNGLA has presence. When we create and staff the ChildrenOs Garden during DisneyOs Flower & Garden Festival, FNGLA has presence.

Presence and Pursuit
Yet, OpresenceO alone just doesnOt cut it. Presence can only be transformed by performance. Do we exercise informed judgment? Do we pursue best interests? Do we act consistently with FNGLAOs strategic mission? Do we reach out to this associationOs gloried past with honor and honor that past by keeping it open to change? Some changes are predictable and can be anticipated. Others are unforeseen and canOt be ignored. For associations, there are very few industries that look the same as they did five years ago. Certainly, FloridaOs nursery and landscape industry has dramatically changed. And, itOs fitting and proper that so has FNGLAOs role and FNGLAOs performance.

Our performance is the benchmark by which this association transforms its presence into prominence. FNGLA is achieving strength and success for an industry that is growing stronger and more successful. FNGLA is achieving recognition and respect for an industry that has become well recognized and highly respected. FNGLA is energizing member grassroots that are awakening. If weOre not at the table, then weOre on the menu.

While remaining true to its core values, FNGLA must venture down some new or different roads. I envision helping our members penetrate deeper into the buyer spheres of influence within the full landscape market: realtors, home builders, developers, building and office managers, landscape architects, as well as resort and facility managers. This is why FNATS was recently renamed FNATS: The Landscape Show.

Low-volume Innovation
I envision our joint FNGLA & UF/IFAS Floriculture Field Days blossoming into the SouthOs equivalent of the California Pack Trials. I envision FNGLAOs four and soon-to-be five certification programs as the sought-after gold standard for FloridaOs multi-billion dollar landscape profession. I envision FNGLA pushing for all new landscapes being watered by separately zoned low-volume irrigation systems so future droughts no longer harshly disrupt grower, landscape and retail businesses.

Peter Drucker once said, OThe best way to predict the future is create it.O Our industryOs growth depends on FNGLAOs future presence, performance and prominence. Your future support, involvement and leadership will determine how successful FNGLAOs prescription will be.

There is a timeless expression that says: OHe who would be great must be fervent in his prayers, fearless in his principles, firm in his purposes and faithful in his promises.O My wish is for FNGLA to be the great association that you, our members, are driving it to be. Recognizing FNGLAOs presence, adhering to our industryOs principles and proving this associationOs bold performance will ensure prominence for our industry and FNGLA for years to come.

This has been an extraordinary year. Accomplishments were achieved because FNGLA is blessed with a richness of resources. These are thoughtful officers, hard-working board members, devoted staff, creative chapters and dynamic divisions. As FNGLA members, you grace this association with your enthusiastic support, your willing participation and your generous confidence. Other green industry associations are Ogreen with envyO at the deep bench of volunteer leaders who serve on FNGLAOs board of directors, divisions, committees and chapters.

Kudos to Volunteers
Of course, thereOs always someone at the top of an organization who does the driving. This year, FNGLA was blessed with the leadership of President Paul Polomsky. Paul is a gentleman, a diplomat, a thinker and a doer. He always asks, OIs this good for our members? Is it the right move for our industry?O When it comes to his concern for FNGLA members, PaulOs internal compass points to the true north. Paul, itOs been an honor to serve at your side this year.

A lot of credit for this successful year also goes to the FNGLA staff. I marvel at what they accomplish. They never back down from a new challenge. They never shy away from a new project and they never say no to a new way of trying something. The passion our staff has for FNGLAOs members is simply extraordinary. ItOs amazing when you realize this team of just 14 association professionals has given a combined total of 139 years of service to FNGLA. What a joy it is to work everyday with such a talented staff.

As I love to say: go out and tell the industry about FNGLA. Tell them itOs about members served, relationships respected, and commitments honored.

Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI)






OPEI director Bill Harley helped put on GIE+EXPO 2007 in Louisville, Ky. this October. A total of 643 exhibitors participated, the 20-acre demo sold out and visitors from all 50 states and over 50 different countries attended.
Photo courtesy of OPEI


Outlook for 2008
Shipments of hand-held outdoor equipment products were down over most of 2007. It is expected that an increase in shipments will not occur until the end of 2008 or beginning of 2009.

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) Forecast for outdoor power equipment is based on OPEIOs econometric model of the industry. The statistical model links the industry with the national economy. The industry forecast is based on the outlook for the U. S. economy prepared by the University of Michigan. The industry forecast is based on actual industry shipments data through July.

Concerns about the strength of the U.S. economy, the housing market, and the existing weather patterns continue to stymie the market for hand held outdoor power equipment products. Concerns about the slowing of the U.S. economy were relieved somewhat by the half-point cut in the interest rate by the Federal Reserve in mid-September, but rumors of a possible recession still persist. According to figures released by the National Association of Home Builders in late September, housing starts decreased by 2.6 percent in August reflecting a 19.1 percent drop from August 2006.

Housing Slump Impact
This decrease is the lowest drop in the last dozen years. Figures from the National Association of Realtors indicate that sales of existing homes between April ? June 2007 were at its lowest point in 16 years and the second quarter sales dipped by 10.8 percent in comparison to second quarter of 2006. In addition, the continued drought throughout much of the U.S. has weakened the demand for outdoor power equipment products overall.

In most cases, it is expected that an increase in shipments will now not occur until the end of FY 2008 (August 2008) or beginning of FY 2009 (September 2008).

2007 Sees Drop
According to current shipment figures, FY 2007 will be the first time in five years that walk-behind mower shipments will fall below 6 million units with a decrease in shipments of 5.7 percent. This decrease is estimated to be larger than OPEIOs July 2007 forecast of a decrease of 4.1 percent. The estimated decrease in front engine lawn tractors (12.9 percent) and riding garden tractors (44.9 percent) is also projected to be deeper than earlier forecasts (decrease of 7.5 percent and 12.9 percent, respectively).

The negative trend that started in FY 2005 for intermediate commercial turf mower shipments will continue through FY 2007 with a forecast decrease of 9.6 percent in shipments. Minimal growth of 1.8% is forecast for FY 2008 for the intermediate commercial mower. During FY 2007, shipments for commercial riders are predicted to fall well below 200,000 units. It is estimated that commercial riding mower shipments will contract 1.9% to 176,793 units for FY 2008.

The Fertilizer Institute Year-end Summary

The Fertilizer Institute, which represents the nationOs fertilizer industry, has had a very exciting year. For starters, for the first time in recent history, TFI hosted board members for a legislative fly-in to Washington, D.C. This event occurred in July and provided a forum for TFI staff to brief members on legislative and regulatory issues of concern. It also gave TFIOs board the opportunity to meet with their elected officials alongside state association representatives. Thirteen TFI board members came to the nationOs capitol to replay the industryOs most pressing concerns to their elected officials.

TFI President Ford B. West writes in the PresidentOs letter in the July/August issue of the TFI Advocate that the legislative fly-in was extremely successful. OIt brought our industryOs concerns to many more members of Congress in one single day than TFI could do alone,O writes West.

West explains in the letter that the meetings also gave members who had not already visited Capitol Hill offices ownership of key issues and a better understanding of the legislative process. As well, the meetings enhanced already established relationships and forged new ones. OOur board members covered a lot of ground in their short two days in Washington, D.C.,O West said. OTFI effectively walks the halls of Congress on a daily basis, but the value of bringing constituents to membersO Washington, D.C. offices canOt be beat.O

Anti-Terrorism Measures
TFI was also pleased to announce on October 23, that the U.S. House of Representatives approved the OSecure Handling of Ammonium Nitrate Act of 2007.O OWith this important legislation, the focus on our industryOs products remains on their beneficial role as a plant nutrient,O said West in a TFI press release.

The bill would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create a regulatory system to help keep ammonium nitrate out of the hands of those with criminal intent.

Another highlight of 2007 was an October 22nd announcement that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has approved product-testing data on nitrate and sulfate products generated by TFI and the European Fertilizer ManufacturerOs Associations (EFMA) for inclusion into an international database of chemicals. The approval came at an OECD Screening Information Data Sets Initial Assessment Meeting (SIAM) in Helsinki, Finland. Acceptance of the data by the OECD provides further credibility to efforts to demonstrate with scientific data that fertilizer products are safe.

International Erosion Control Association (IECA): Growth Means More Services






Russell Adsit is the associationOs new executive director. He started his term on Nov. 5.
Photo: IECA


With the retirement of IECAOs long-time executive director, Ben Northcutt, the board of directors initiated an exhaustive search for new leadership. With many qualified candidates, I am honored the board extended the offer to me. My background started out as a landscape contractor for 20 combined years in Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi. Since that time, I taught at Mississippi State University and then was principal of landscape architecture for a major Memphis engineering, architecture and landscape architecture firm.

As I start this journey with one of the top associations in the industry, I am reminded how connected we are in the landscape, construction and erosion and sediment control industries. As the early days of NPDES Phase II became a reality, many landscape contractors were wondering what all the fuss was about. This was the type of thing we had been doing all along. Unfortunately, many landscape contractors have chosen to avoid this niche in the business and have watched as it has become more mature and, certainly, a major part of the development process. It is not too late to change this.






A crew from Royal Trail Works, Inc. places fiber rolls over a hydromulch product to stabilize a slope between chair lift and golf green at VermontOs Stowe Mountain Resort.
Photo: royaltrailworks.com


While many engineers and landscape architects are involved in the preparation of storm water pollution prevention plans during construction, there is a need for landscape contractors to understand the law and the monitoring process. Understanding a total range of best management practices will allow landscape contractors to become valuable team members in the early stages of construction site management. For the landscape contractor, experience and technical training is the first step for a higher level of involvement on construction projects. A variety of successful programs will continue to educate and inform industry professionals. Stay in touch and learn more at IECA.org.

With early involvement, the landscape contractor becomes a true team member that assists in the completion of a quality project that can be delivered on time with minimal problems and fewer infractions or agency fines. IECAOs networking opportunities connect contractors with other professionals who are willing to mentor newcomers. The variety of delivery methods for technical training available through the association provides few excuses for landscape contractors not to embrace this profitable part of their business.

Erosion Control Technology Council Year-end Report

The Erosion Control Technology Council (ECTC) was established in 1992 and consists of a broad range of professionals and specialties, including site engineers, consultants, regulator agencies, earthwork and seeding contractors, erosion control product suppliers and manufacturers. The ECTC is a non-profit organization committed to advancing the use of rolled erosion control materials by providing education and leadership in the industry. The most rapidly growing segments within the industry include the Rolled Erosion Control Products (RECPs), Hydraulic Erosion Control Products (HECPs) and Sediment Retention Fiber Rolls (SRFRs) markets.

2007 began with members of the ECTC electing their Board of Directors during meetings in Minneapolis, Minn. The board members. who will serve for two years include Executive Director Laurie Honnigford, Chairman Tim Lancaster of North American Green and Vice Chairman Chad Lipscomb of Western Excelsior.

Denver Meeting
The ECTC quarterly meeting was held June 5th to 7th in Denver, Colo. ECTC Members traveled to Fort Collins, Colo. where they toured the Colorado State University Hydraulic Testing Lab.

ECTC revised their mission statement in mid 2007.The new mission statement is as follows: OThe Erosion Control Technology Council is committed to promoting cost-effective erosion and sediment control solutions through leadership, standardization and education. ECTC assists agencies, engineers, designers, contractors and other entities in the proper application, installation and specification of erosion control technologies.O

This year ECTC also sent three representatives to Washington D.C. to meet with key organizations to provide an update on current and upcoming ECTC projects and campaigns. ECTC began this program of connecting with other industry groups several years ago and meetings with representatives from other allied trade association and governmental agencies have been so successful they have become annual events.

Georgia Urban Agricultural Council

By Mary Kay Woodworth. EditorOs note: This text originally ran on Oct. 8 in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. It is adapted here with permission.

Healthy Landscapes Vital to Water System: Ban to Hurt More Than Help, Setting Off Irrigation Ills

Public perceptions are difficult to work with. Erroneous public perceptions are not only difficult; they are dangerous, especially when they become the foundation for bad public policy.

Yet, that could be exactly what is happening in Georgia with the stateOs recent watering ban in 61 North Georgia counties. The watering ban communicates to the public, legislators and policy makers that landscaping is Ononessential.O This perception could not be further from the truth.

The urbanization and suburbanization of Georgia has been enormous, providing jobs, economic opportunities and stability for millions of people not only in Georgia, but also throughout the Southeast region.

It has also brought problems. Urbanization decreases water quality and increases water use. About one-half of the land cleared or disturbed for development is covered by impervious surfaces such as roads, roofs and parking lots, and is a significant contributor to the current Owater crisis.O Landscape, also known as urban agriculture, has become the best method for addressing these problems.

Few people understand their own water use. Residential water use represents roughly 50 percent to 65 percent of non-agricultural water use. Indoor water use is typically 80 percent of all residential water use. On an annualized basis, outdoor water use only accounts for approximately 20 percent of all residential water use. An outdoor watering ban does nothing to limit most residential water use and waste?which happens inside the home.

Perception is Key
The watering perception problem also creates a huge economic problem for one of GeorgiaOs largest and most vibrant industries. Urban agriculture in Georgia represents more than $8 billion in sales with 7,000 companies and more than 80,000 employees. The industry includes retail garden centers, floriculturists, turf grass and sod growers, the nursery and horticulture industry, landscape architects, landscape installation and maintenance, green wholesalers, florists and golf courses, and their related businesses. It is the second largest agriculture industry in Georgia, just behind poultry and larger than all food and fiber production in the state.

Historically, the state has recognized the environmental and commercial interest of the industry by exempting all new landscape installation from watering restrictions for 30 days. Carol Couch, head of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, has been steadfast in her support for this vital exemption, and we applaud her for that commitment. But some local water authorities are inventing improper interpretations of that rule or trying to ignore it altogether. This should not be allowed.

The urban agriculture industry is committed to being an active participant in helping Georgia through its current water crisis. And we will continue to work with the state and local water authorities as they search for solutions to the problems that are developing daily.

But we must insist that the state address the lack of water infrastructure, including water storage needs, so that it wonOt become necessary to address another water crisis by placing economic hardships on one of the few industries in Georgia that plays a vital role in improving environmental standards in our rapidly urbanizing state.

Public perceptions are difficult to work with. Erroneous public perceptions are not only difficult; they are dangerous, especially when they become the foundation for bad public policy.

Yet, that could be exactly what is happening in Georgia with the stateOs recent watering ban in 61 North Georgia counties. The watering ban communicates to the public, legislators and policy makers that landscaping is Ononessential.O This perception could not be further from the truth.

The urbanization and suburbanization of Georgia has been enormous, providing jobs, economic opportunities and stability for millions of people not only in Georgia, but also throughout the Southeast region.

It has also brought problems. Urbanization decreases water quality and increases water use. About one-half of the land cleared or disturbed for development is covered by impervious surfaces such as roads, roofs and parking lots, and is a significant contributor to the current Owater crisis.O Landscape, also known as urban agriculture, has become the best method for addressing these problems.

Few people understand their own water use. Residential water use represents roughly 50 percent to 65 percent of non-agricultural water use. Indoor water use is typically 80 percent of all residential water use. On an annualized basis, outdoor water use only accounts for approximately 20 percent of all residential water use. An outdoor watering ban does nothing to limit most residential water use and waste?which happens inside the home.

Perception is Key
The watering perception problem also creates a huge economic problem for one of GeorgiaOs largest and most vibrant industries. Urban agriculture in Georgia represents more than $8 billion in sales with 7,000 companies and more than 80,000 employees. The industry includes retail garden centers, floriculturists, turf grass and sod growers, the nursery and horticulture industry, landscape architects, landscape installation and maintenance, green wholesalers, florists and golf courses, and their related businesses. It is the second largest agriculture industry in Georgia, just behind poultry and larger than all food and fiber production in the state.

Historically, the state has recognized the environmental and commercial interest of the industry by exempting all new landscape installation from watering restrictions for 30 days. Carol Couch, head of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, has been steadfast in her support for this vital exemption, and we applaud her for that commitment. But some local water authorities are inventing improper interpretations of that rule or trying to ignore it altogether. This should not be allowed.

The urban agriculture industry is committed to being an active participant in helping Georgia through its current water crisis. And we will continue to work with the state and local water authorities as they search for solutions to the problems that are developing daily.

But we must insist that the state address the lack of water infrastructure, including water storage needs, so that it wonOt become necessary to address another water crisis by placing economic hardships on one of the few industries in Georgia that plays a vital role in improving environmental standards in our rapidly urbanizing state.



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