There has been a lot of confusion around the Governor’s latest Executive Order with some garden centers seeing the 50,000 square foot size for retailers. Some garden centers are opening under the interpretation of the 50,000 sq. ft. language, but they do this at their own risk because on our last MDARD conference call we were told there should be no retail sales of plants. They have certainly muddied the water or they are not communicating between the Governor’s office and MDARD. It sounded like the Governor opened the door for getting back open in her press conference yesterday when she finally started to talk about what has to happen to start easing up on restrictions. She didn’t change any restrictions, but at least she talked about how to get there. She still does not understand the industry, but at least she mentioned it in her comments.
In a call we had with legislators, we were told that the Governor is feeling the pressure from our push to get garden centers at least partially open. We need to keep up the pressure through phone calls and emails to her office. In the Action Alert that we partnered with Michigan Farm Bureau last week her office was contacted over 50,000 times in a couple of days! A new record for them. This shows that our industry is viewed very favorably by the public and we need to continue to engage the public to help keep our message front and center. Share items on Facebook or Instagram such as original content or videos of industry members and their plight as well as articles or blogs that show the damage being done. Write letters to the editor of your local paper and encourage your customers to do the same. Their voices are very powerful for us. Be civil! We are in the right and need to keep our industry above the things that would not put us in a good light. We should not be the only state to not allow any type of sales at garden centers in the nation. Minnesota just allowed their garden centers to open and Illinois has stopped personal shopping at centers, curbside pickup only.Senator Stabenow has signed on to two press releases asking the USDA to make sure that specialty crop producers are compensated for their losses. I have been in contact several times a week with her staff providing information from their Michigan constituents. Her office has been very helpful and I appreciate them reaching out to me. See her press releases urging help for Specialty Crop Producers and COVID-19 Relief for Michigan Farmers .
Please continue to contact your legislators as well as the Governor. Let them know how much you appreciate their support for our industry and ask that they continue to ask the Governor for some relief. We need to continue to support each other in this time of need and help get our garden centers back open.
Don’t forget to watch SBAM’s daily briefing at 3pm hosted by Brian Calley and Rob Fowler for answers to each days questions in real time. Available on Facebook and by Zoom. Check it out.