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PROBLEMS INVOLVED DURING MOTHERS DAY - PART 2

In the US, People agree with the foreign encroachment. "There used be over 100 rose growers in the state and now there are 11," they said. "And we are all growing by hydroponics."

That technique allows growers to cultivate larger-headed varieties that don't grow well in soil and accelerate production. Hydroponics help stem the tide of imports and help gain a little market share.>

"We can't compete with imports," Neve a nursery owner said. "Those flowers are loaded with pesticides that California growers can't even think about using. In addition to that problem, our cut flowers are over-produced because of the imports."

All the flowers in huge stores such as Costco are imported. This impacts florists and supermarkets by the proliferation of flowers in non-floral markets, he said.

"If we could average 10 percent more profit we could be in the same position as we were 30 years ago," he said. That' when we were making good money.

"But we can't allow other countries to come in and impact our bottom line in the name of free trade. How can you compare foreign labor costs of $3 an hour compared with California's labor costs of $12 an hour?"

Neve agreed the industry is at a low point and there are not enough voices in this country to make a difference. California growers are not mom-and-pop operations, but they are not huge compared with the wealthy players in South America. The people believe that the flower industry is stable.

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