Where is Your Bouquet From?
Approximately 80% of all flowers sold in the U.S. are grown in another country and shipped here, leaving them with a hefty carbon footprint. Most of these imported flowers come from Colombia and Ecuador as the result of a trade agreement signed in 1991. Lax chemical regulations and questionable working conditions allow foreign countries to flood the U.S. market with inexpensive, duty-free flowers, making it hard for domestic growers to compete.
Colombian flowers arrived in the U.S. in 1965, and in 2013 the country “exported $1.34 billion worth of flowers, with the United States accounting for over 75% of the total at $1.09 billion,” according to a USDA Foreign Agricultural Service report. The top picks: roses, carnations and chrysanthemums.
The number of U.S. farms cultivating cut flowers and greens has declined significantly over the last 25 years, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. California once supplied 75% of the country’s flowers, but today the state is home to about 250 flower farms, down from 500 flower farms in the 1980s.
In Ventura County, 745 acres were devoted to commercially growing flowers in 2015, according to that year’s Crop & Livestock Report, with a crop value of over $48.5 million. This places cut flowers among the county’s top 10 leading crops.