MGGC was asked to testify on the effects of the Governor’s EO’s on the greenhouse industry by the Chair of the House Agriculture at a joint meeting of the Agriculture and Commerce committees on June 23rd. Chris Schwartz and I gave an overview of the problems that were created by the EO and the lack of information we received on when and if our retail outlets would be able to sell the products that were ready to be shipped. We also brought up the fact that Michigan was an outlier in the nation in not recognizing that greenhouses and retail sales were essential services like all but one state did. The Spring/ Easter plant problems were brought up with the fact that greenhouses were essential but retail was not created a huge problem for the greenhouses that specialized in these products. MGGC’s communication and media campaign was brought up as our successful answer to getting the Governor to relax the shutdown on retail sales for the industry and keeping our retailers from having more of a crisis season. Several of the lawmakers commented on the quality of the presentation by Chris. Thank you and great job Chris!
Today the Governor put out an Executive order making all retailers deny entrance to anyone not wearing a mask and putting a misdemeanor charge and $500 fine for someone not wearing a mask in public indoor and crowded outdoor spaces. Businesses must refuse entry to those not wearing a mask and may be subject to their license being pulled if they don’t. There was no penalty for violating the order before. We are at a point that we don’t want to regress into having businesses closed again for a spike in the cases of COVID so make sure you have everything you need to keep your employees and customers safe and healthy. If you need any PPE, check the SBAM website or call us for supplies. SBAM has many suppliers listed that will have what you need.
On Monday the Detroit Free Press did a hit piece on one of the industry leaders about migrant labor. The article was totally slanted and written for the workers and they only looked at their side of the issue. There may be more articles so be ready for questions about labor from the press.
We will be sending out the sign up soon for the MGGC annual meeting in Traverse City at the Park Place Hotel. We have a great line up of speakers for the event and it is a great opportunity to network with the state leaders in the industry. Make sure you put October 19-21 on your schedule to hold the date!
I hope everyone is having a healthy and prosperous summer. Don’t hesitate to call if you have questions or issues we can assist you with.
This week MGGC joined AmericanHort and numerous others around the nation in sending a letter to USDA requesting to be added to the CFAP relief program. We have asked for relief for a 3 month period between January 15, 2020 and April 15, for serious economic harm from 2020 COVID-19 related disruption of the market chain during this time. The nursery and floriculture sector represents one third of the value of all specialty crops but we were not included in the original USDA-FSA direct payment relief. The letter explains the losses and gives some ideas for identifying crop values for the program. This is an interesting read so I have included the full letter here Nursery-Floriculture Comment Letter on USDA CFAP NOFA_Final_0622202.
The Michigan cases of COVID-19 continue to remain low but there is a concern of a second wave of infections as other states have had a large increase in cases in the past couple of weeks. The total number of cases in the state has risen to 61,630, including 5,864 deaths. Our state doesn’t rank in the top 10 for cases any longer but the Governor is not ready to move to stage 5 and allow more businesses to re-open. I have had reports from some members who have had employees with positive tests so we have to stay vigilant with our precaution. If you are having any difficulty finding PPE products you can visit the SBAM website (sbam.org) , call Cindy at 517-367-2033 or me at 231-301-4888 and we will try to help find what you need.
Please do not hesitate to call me or Cindy with any questions or if something arises you need some help with for your business. We can help with issues or steer you to someone who can help you work through them.
Mark your calendars for October 19th – 21st for our first ever destination annual meeting in Traverse City at the Park Place Hotel! We have a great line up of speakers and it is a great time to network with other industry leaders. Watch your emails for the invites soon.
As I have contacted members around the state, it looks like everyone is doing a brisk business and things are getting back to semi-normal. It looks like retail has been very busy and some folks are running a little low on plants that are ready. People are ready to plant their gardens and decorate their yards while they are at home.
I want to thank everyone who has supported the industry with our media push. This has raised public awareness of our industry and will pay dividends for a long time. Keep up the positive message if you are contacted for any follow up from the media. Please continue to diligently follow your cleaning and social distancing rules even though things seem to be back to normal. We cannot have any setbacks in the industry now. Keep it up!
Don’t forget our new Member Marketplace service on the website (MGGC.org). As a member you can list products you may be long on or equipment you no longer use. Now is the time to think about putting a free ad in the Marketplace. Think of it as a Craigslist for greenhouses. Also, as a member you can use SBAM’s website (sbam.org) to find PPE and cleaning products for your business. Feel free to call me or Cindy, if you are having any issues finding PPE or if we can answer any questions.
Goeff Hansen Executive Director 231-301-4888 | MainStreet@sbam.org
Today I was able to visit some open garden centers around the region. It was great to see the importance that is being put on customer and employee safety. This is so important! We have promised our industry will set the standard for safety and we need to show we mean what we say. As one of the first industries allowed to re-open we will be under the microscope statewide. Now the media is doing segments on how we are handling being open and seeing if we are following the rules as we have laid out. This is where the rubber hits the road, showing just how seriously we take this. Just remember that the rules can be changed just as fast to close our businesses again if we are seen as a problem in safety. Keep up the great work and make sure you have everything you need to be open.
Now that retail greenhouses and garden centers are allowed to be open, I will not be doing a briefing every day. You have too much to do and I hope I don’t have as much to send out affecting our industry. I will send out briefings as I have news that I think is important. I hope the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Council and our daily briefing has been helpful in keeping you up to speed with what was going on in the state. If you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to send them to us.
I am hearing rumors that Governor Whitmer will announce some relaxations of the rules of the Stay at Home Order in her 3 pm press conference tomorrow. The Detroit News reported her statement today: “We need to keep it up. I’m hoping to say more on when we can start loosening restrictions as soon as Friday of this week,” Whitmer said.
This could possibly mean online, delivery or curbside or allowing some retail with safety restrictions. I think this is still in flux and I have heard this type of thing a couple of other days, but it was pulled back before it was announced. Hopefully tomorrow she will begin to allow the economy to get back on track at some level. This was in an alert from MIRS news this afternoon: Gov. Gretchen WHITMER is expected to announce Friday, along with an emergency powers resolution extension, the ability for Michigan residents to golf and motorboat as long as proper social distancing measures are followed and other safety precautions are made. The Governor is also expected to allow the paint and gardening sections of larger stores to reopen if safety precautions are followed, a dial back of her Executive Order 2020-42, which generated significant public agitation, sources tell MIRS.
My source tells me she may allow garden centers to do the same as the big box stores for the gardening items. This is all still rumor until we hear from Governor Whitmer tomorrow afternoon. Let’s hope we finally get some good news tomorrow.
Today’s message will be short since there is no real changes to what we know. The Governor held a press conference today and what we got were a lot of mixed signals about what and when the next steps will be happening. She said there will probably be a short extension of the stay home order but there may be some relaxation of the rules. I have heard she is looking at Friday for her next announcement. Our media campaign is still going very well with media contacts around the state. Here are a few of them.
Please continue to get our message out on social media by sharing any posts that help our cause. On our weekly MDARD call today there was no signal about when we could expect to be allowed to re-open and I asked for them to give us a few days notice, if possible, to get staff trained and have stores ready to go. I will try to get more info and will share as soon as I can.
Now for the bad news….. the USDA has sent out a release today letting us know they have found Ralstonia in Michigan. I don’t have any more information yet other than what they put in their release. I will try to find out more about this as soon as I can
Keep up the great work sharing our message on Facebook and other social media platforms! It is getting to all parts of the state many times over. Thank you.
Today the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Council sent a letter to Governor Whitmer outlining how Michigan retail greenhouses and garden centers would keep their employees and customers safe in these difficult times. The letter showed that retail greenhouses and garden centers can and are ready to operate safely, protecting customers from COVID-19. It goes on to state that we are encouraged by your commitment to allowing jobsites to safely re-open and your hope to begin the process by May 1st. Michigan greenhouses and garden centers are ready to be a part of that first phase and having a May 1st target date in mind would help employers begin to accelerate training for new safety processes in locations across the state.
It is our responsibility to operate in a safe way, and garden centers can. Michigan garden centers can and are ready to do what our neighbors in Ohio are already doing as they operate during this time. We have taken and are taking many important and carefully targeted steps to ensure our operations are safe, including changes in the way we do business to:
Offer online shopping, call ahead orders, curbside pickup or delivery as available
Limit the number of customers near the cash registers and in the store at any given time. Many retailers are marking the floor in check-out lines to encourage social distancing.
Sanitize all carts, baskets, door handles throughout the day, as well as credit card pads
Require staff members to sanitize regularly
Have hand sanitizer available for consumers and staff at the checkout
Require social distancing between staff and customers in the store, grounds and greenhouses. Greenhouses are so large, social distancing is not hard and the person per square foot guidelines are easily met.
We also respectfully ask any individual- whether a customer or an employee – exhibiting even minor symptoms to stay home.
We then go on to show examples of Michigan garden centers and greenhouses leading the way in working safe, even during the current downtime and give several examples of what centers have already put in place getting ready to open. You can read the entire letter Letter to Governor Whitmer – Work Safe Plan_FINAL. We have sent out a MGGC Release_WorkSafePlansReady_4.20.2020 and already have several press inquiries for media. If you get contacted, be ready to talk about how you are ready to open safely and discuss the steps your business is taking to keep people safe.
Now is the time to make sure your business is ready for business, with all of the safety precautions in place. Everyone needs to have a safety plan ready to implement it when you open. The Governor has signaled that she is willing to look at re-opening our economy and we need to lead during the first phase, so that we can set an example for all.
As you have probably heard, the $350 billion SBA loan funding has already run out of money. If you have received a notice that you have been approved, you will get your money. If you have not been approved yet, keep trying. Congress is working to add money to the pot so more people can take advantage of the program. There is political bickering about what to put into the bill so it has not been advanced yet to fund more small businesses payroll costs. Now would be a good time to reach out to your Congressperson or Senators in Washington to tell them to pass the funding now and worry about other funding issues later. We don’t have time for political games from either side, there is too much at stake.
The Governor continues to discuss how businesses in the state will be able to open again soon and laying out the ground rules for this to happen. It seems she is more willing to discuss looking at regions or areas to allow some relaxation of the Executive Order. I view this as a good step forward for our industry and other industries in the state. We need to be sure we are ready to follow new strict guidelines for employee and customer safety when we are allowed to open for retail sales. Have you looked at your plan and made sure your employees are well versed in cleaning protocol and social distancing? If we can be in the first wave of openings, we have to set the gold standard for all businesses in operating safely.
Enjoy your weekend and spend some time with your family.
The Governor has said she wants to see plans for safely opening businesses as we look to start the process of getting our economy back open. The Michigan Greenhouse Growers Council is putting together a letter to show how our industry is ready, willing and able to meet and surpass any requirements on social distancing, cleaning, and limiting numbers of people in the building at any one time. We know there won’t be business as usual once we are able to reopen and need to show our commitment to safety. Make sure your business has a comprehensive plan to reopen, not just doing the things that need to be done, but also have a written plan that can be implemented by all members of your team clearly written out for all parts of the program. It may be a good idea to post it near your required paperwork.
Now is the time to make sure you have all of the supplies you will need to reopen safely. Have you secured enough hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, and cleaning solution to get you through a busy open? Have you secured the plexiglass to shield your cashier stands? Many of the items needed are in short supply, so make sure you are able to keep enough on hand to meet your needs when you are able to reopen.
The Senate workgroup on ‘Safe Behavior for Safe Workplaces’ is asking for you to send feedback to help them understand what Michigan job providers and workers need to get back to work safely. Visit www.MiSafeWorkplaces.com to complete the survey. Help them help us by filling it out for our industry.