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Cut Flower Industry On Central, South Coasts Hard Hit By Pandemic

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You can get Mother flowers for Mother's Day, but you'll pay more

This is the biggest weekend of the year for florists on the Central and South Coasts.

Bonnie Sweeney and her daughter, Laura, own Whitehouse Florists in Santa Barbara. While COVID-19 has affected the floral industry, she says so far they’ve been able to get the flowers they need to meet the demand.

The pandemic has been hard on the cut flower industry, one that was already having problems before the crisis hit. Impacts included reduced demand for cut flowers, more complex safety issues for workers, and complications with shipping.

Dave Pruitt is a longtime grower, and the past CEO of the California Cut Flower Commission. He says at the beginning of the crisis, growers were hit hard, with business down to 10% of normal.

It has added to what was already a huge crisis: Competition from low-cost imported flowers.
Pruitt says the federal government hasn’t helped the situation. He says many tariffs which have helped keep the prices of domestically grown flowers competitive with imported ones have been lifted.

Pruitt says we’re seeing examples of the situation on the Central and South Coasts, with some longtime growers going out of business.

Back at Whitehouse Florist in Santa Barbara, Sweeney says business is booming, and they have been able to get the flowers they need to keep customers happy.

And, while there are big concerns about the state of the industry, growers are hoping that people will step up this weekend, to remember Mom with flowers.