PLANET 2010 — PROFESSIONAL LANDCARE NETWORK– building a grassroots coalition to overcome issues such as water, pesticides, and fertilizer bans.

2010 Legislative Day on the Hill
July 18 to July 20, 2010
Capitol Hill
Washington, DC

“Advocacy Communication – Key Bridge Marriott(1.5 CEUs toward recertification)
Learn the basics about how to confront issues in your state or local community. This training will walk you through the process of dealing with elected officials and building a grassroots coalition to overcome issues such as water, pesticides, and fertilizer bans. You will also learn how to use local media to strategically convey your message through letters to the editor and media interviews. Media tips and on-air camera interview techniques with be demonstrated.”


Everything in moderation

Last month, about 75 green industry professionals spent a day on Capitol Hill lobbying members of Congress as part of PLANET’s Day on the Hill. Mostly, they talked about how changes to current pesticide regulations and the Clean Water Act, EPA’s WaterSense program and immigration reform could impact them and their businesses.

Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, and which of those issues is important to you, one message from the event holds true for anyone in the industry – the importance of a moderate approach.

It came first from David Crow, president of DC Legislative and Regulatory Services, a lobbying consultancy. He told the PLANET caucus that legislators and their staffs wouldn’t be receptive to constituents coming in and taking a hard-line approach – asking them to repeal entire portions of the Clean Water Act, for example.

“Obviously, we use products that can cause harm if used improperly. We know that,” Crow said. “We’re headed toward greater regulation. We’re for reasonable regulation.”

His point was that it’s a fool’s errand to ask any member of Congress to try and enact sweeping changes to the laws that regulate chemical use in the green industry. It’s just not going to happen right now. But, a message that can get through is that companies who use these products every day know best how to use them responsibly, and have been doing so for a long time. There’s no need to introduce further restrictions on how they can operate their businesses.

The message of moderation came again from Cal Thomas, a conservative columnist, and Bob Beckel, a Democratic strategist, who spoke in turns to the assembled contractors about immigration reform, terrorism and the war in Afghanistan. Together, they write a regular column in USA Today called Common Ground and their message, basically, is that most people can find agreement on most issues if they look hard enough. This isn’t a message of togetherness but one of pragmatism – no one can get anything done if we spend all of our time yelling and tearing each other apart.

And they’re right. In the end, everyone wants clean water, healthy plants and healthy businesses that contribute jobs and tax revenue to the economy – especially those who depend on votes to keep them employed.

I’m all for fighting for what you believe in and standing up for your rights, but I’m also all for spending your time wisely and pursuing change you can affect. So the next time you stop by your local representative’s office, or see him at the county fair canvassing for support, tell him your message – the industry’s message – strongly, clearly but also calmly. So he’ll listen, and we can all get to work.

Lawn & Landscape Magazine : Current Issues Everything in moderation.