Joe Munie, president of Munie Greencare Professionals, based in Caseyville, Illinois, was presented the 2022 Advocacy Award during ELEVATE in Orlando, Florida.
This award is presented to an individual who has dedicated their time and efforts to go above and beyond to help represent and defend the interests of our industry at the local, state and national levels.
Munie says he’s honored to receive this award. He says one of the great things about the green industry is it’s made up of a lot of people who care about what we do and a lot of people who have given their personal time to advance the industry. To be recognized as someone helping make a difference means a lot to him.
Starting his business in the 1980s, Munie primarily worked on the lawn care side of things. While getting his feet wet in the business, a study came out about the herbicide 2-4-D having possible harmful effects and there was a push to ban it. This grew into groups questioning whether any kind of pesticides should be used in lawn care.
“All of a sudden, there was a pretty serious threat to the lawn care industry,” Munie says. “I think that’s when I first really understood that there’s another side to protecting your business.”
Munie says starting out his foray into advocacy was a learning experience. He wrote letters to his representatives but also spent time observing and learning.
He says over the years there have been a number of issues that have been fairly impactful in a negative way to the industry or his business in particular.
“I came to the realization that if you’re not going to be involved and make your voice heard then the groups that have agendas that aren’t friendly to our business are going to gain the upper hand on certain things,” Munie says.
Munie says as he’s gotten more involved in advocacy he’s found, at times, facts are disregarded and perception tends to be the reality.
“Part of getting involved was just understanding the importance of being able to tell our side of the story and present our facts,” Munie says.
One of the ways he’s been involved in defending the industry is attending NALP fly-ins to the Capitol since 2002. Over the years, he has developed relationships with past and current representatives at the local, state and federal level. One thing he has worked on in particular is learning the facts on the issues that concern him. He says it’s important to understand all points of view, including the opposition’s and to be knowledgeable on the facts.
“I’ve really taken an interest in trying to, when we do have issues, really gain a thorough understanding because when you do have the opportunity to make your point heard, it’s really important that you know exactly what the talking points are and how to move the conversation along,” Munie says.
He says there are some champions for the industry in Congress and when there is an opportunity to help support these individuals with fundraisers, he has gotten involved.
One of the main topics Munie encourages other landscapers to lend their voice to is the defense of the H-2B visa program. While those in the industry see it as a work visa program, the opposition sees it as an immigration topic. He also believes lawn care products will continue to be a hot-button issue.
“Our industry tends to really unfairly get attacked on the environmental side of things and I don’t think that’s going to change,” Munie says. “Most of us use chemistry to help manage lawns and landscapes and there seems to be constant pressure on local, state, and federal levels to eliminate and overregulate some of those products.”
He says it’s important for more landscape professionals to participate in advocacy because numbers really matter.
“It’s something that I learned early on,” Munie says. “When you do have the opportunity to talk to your representatives, they are interested and they will look to understand your side and understand all things.
If all the noise is coming from one direction and we’re not making our voices heard, they’re not going to have a high level of interest in the issue.”
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This article was published in the Jan/Feb issue of the magazine. To read more stories from The Edge magazine, click here to subscribe to the digital edition.