We’re all aware of the diverse, challenging issues the Green Industry faces. In the states, there seems to be record levels of legislation being introduced, especially with regard to banning fertilizers to protect water and banning pesticides on school grounds, parks and recreational areas. In addition, the United States Department of Labor is set to implement regulations on the H-2B visa program that will increase the cost to users to the point that it could mean the end of the program. Because Congress cannot agree on how to fix our broken immigration system, states are getting into the immigration issues. It’s open season for legislation and regulation out there.
As the lawn and landscape season begins, negative stories that target industry issues — such as pesticides, fertilizers, water use, landscape equipment noise, H-2B, immigration or pollution — always increase. Sometimes, the tools we use to care for lawns or landscapes are referred to as a waste of valuable resources. Activists say the only value of lawns and landscapes is for cosmetic or aesthetic purposes. If you only look at the issue on the surface or believe what activists say, you may not even be opposed to what an initiative or state bill does — or you may not understand its future consequences.
To be successful as an industry, we need to learn to deliver the proper message and response to legislators, detractors, and, in some cases, the media. We also need to learn how to mobilize association members, nonmembers, industry suppliers and customers to help spread the word. But first, to be most effective, we all need to be on the same page.
We can’t say, “Because this does not directly affect my operation I will ignore it.” We don’t live in a vacuum, and we shouldn’t wait for problem legislation or regulation to pop up and expect to be able to deal with it successfully without a plan. We cannot keep thinking our associations can fix everything when we will not play an active role in what they ask us to do. More often than not, when a bad bill passes in one state, it shows up in another.
We need to look at who is behind a bill being introduced and try to determine their overall plan. Some groups have plans for your future, and those plans may be to put you out of business. Sometimes they pick the group that is not organized, that does not respond in a unified manner to their attacks. It’s important to know how the issue or legislation got started. Was it the result of a complaint or accident? Is it just being introduced for a constituent? Are those behind it serious in getting it passed? Is an environmental or anti-immigration group behind it? Is it already in another state, and the legislator is just trying to have legislation in their name as a sponsor?
While all this is important, what matters most is what happens when you ignore a state or national call to action. It will not matter if the economy gets better if the laws or regulations you’ve allowed to get passed make it impossible for you to operate.
Pay attention when a call to action goes out, even when it doesn’t seem to directly impact you. You should still respond, and encourage others to respond as well.
Article provided by the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET). For more information, visit www.landcarenetwork.org