It seemed fitting that when our buses pulled up in front of the Capitol this week with more than 100 landscape and lawn care professionals headed out for our annual industry Day on the Hill, that the sprinklers were on in the early morning, working to keep the lawn in front of the Capitol looking its best.
When it comes to advocating for our industry, progress is often made one inch at a time. And it takes teamwork and dedication to make all those inches add up to feet, yards, and then miles until we cross the finish line, winning a good legislative outcome for landscape and lawn care businesses.
Our new VP of Government Affairs, Andrew Bray, hit the ground running this week, when he briefed attendees and participated in issues panels. Both he and Bob Mann, Director of State and Local Government Relations, participated in meetings on the Hill and with Federal Agencies alongside members and NALP staff.
Here’s What Happened at the Department of Labor Meeting
NALP members and staff met with Department of Labor (DOL) staff in the Employment and Training Administration. During the meeting NALP members provided actual stories concerning the difficulties associated with finding willing and physically capable employees. This was an opportunity to further stress the need for a significant increase in H-2B visas and to streamline the process to make it more efficient and timely. NALP members also highlighted all of the industry efforts on recruitment and workforce training, including the newly approved apprenticeship program.
Here’s What Happened at the Environmental Protection Agency Meeting
NALP members and staff met with senior officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, including Nancy Beck the Deputy Assistant Administrator Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and Rick Keigwin the Director of the Office of Pesticide Programs. The meeting was an opportunity to reintroduce the lawncare industry and to better explain how the industry is actually using pesticides in the field. NALP will be hosting a workshop for EPA officials on September 4th to better demonstrate industry use patterns and EPA has agreed to work the NALP to collect more accurate model data that EPA can use when conducting risk assessment during pesticide registration and registration review.
Meanwhile, on the Hill…
Just one of many different state groups, the Oregon team including Bob Grover of Pacific Landscape Management and his wife Theresa Kirsch visited seven different legislative offices during the day. Bob has been to the Hill four times in the past year, sharing his story and pushing for H-2B reform. His motto, “If not me, who? And if not now, when?”
It was the first time on the Hill for Kurt Bland, Justin Gornto, and Joshua Joslin of Bland Landscaping who joined Jason Becker of Caterpillar representing North Carolina. They focused most of their messaing on the H-2B issue, though other groups were also discussing the Farm Bill and national pesticide preemption with their legislators.
A sincere thank you to everyone who dressed up in the DC heat and humidity and pounded the pavement on Capitol Hill this week, because you made a difference with each staffer and legislator you spoke with. Even if they were on opposite sides of our issues – telling your stories helped educate them.
Now, let’s get everyone involved. If you own a landscape or lawn care company and aren’t involved in our advocacy efforts, we need you.
Contact Andrew@landscapeprofessionals.org if you want to get involved with our advocacy efforts in your state by joining our ACT! Team of local advocates. We hope to see you at the next Legislative event in Washington.
Thank you to partners: National Hispanic Landscape Alliance and the Snow and Ice Management Association.