2E BUSINESS ● THE BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE Sunday, February 12, 2006 Flower growers bet on organic boom By JULIANA BARBASSA really interested.” THE ASSOCIATED PRESS But there are signs that this might be changing, said Ger- WATSONVILLE, Calif. — ald Prolman, who started Along a fog-blanketed swath Organic Bouquet, the first of coastline waiting to burst national online distributor of forth with vivid colors, there organic flowers, in 2001. are signs of the yesterdays, Part of Prolman’s mission is todays and tomorrows of the education, letting consumers flower industry. know that if they’re getting Empty greenhouses flank pesticide-free chocolate and Josh Dautoff’s farm, relics of wine for their valentine, they the bust that came when also can get their flowers with- cheap imports drove his out added chemicals. neighbors out of business. Many people who probably Tiny yellow bulbinellas, would want to buy organic tropical red-and-white flowers just don’t know they’re amaryllis and more than 150 available, he said. other varieties replace the “This is a matter of supply daisies his parents grew in the and choice, rather than supply simpler days of floral farming, and demand,” he said. “The when a family could make a more we make it available, the icals harmful to workers or the American countries. living with one flower. more people ask for it.” environment. For decades, California had A barren six-acre plot will And his investment is pay- Organic flower sales are supplied the nation’s flower soon hold the seeds of a future ing off. After an initial struggle expected to grow 13 percent shops. But producers here crop of organic sunflowers. to introduce the idea and find annually through 2008, couldn’t compete with South “People come to us looking suppliers, the company took for something different,” said according to the Organic America’s lower wages and off, tripling in size between Dautoff, 29. “No one’s coming Trade Association. steady sunshine. 2004 and 2005. Now 85 per- to me now asking for organic Many in the industry hope Foreign growers also bene- cent of his flowers are organic, flowers. But I have faith that the decision to go organic fited from being able to use and the rest are on their way to they will.” eventually will be an environ- more pesticides to create becoming organic. Farmers who weathered a mentally friendly but also a beautiful flowers, but the This Valentine’s Day, wave of cheap imports in the financially sound alternative chemicals left workers with Organic Bouquet will ship last decade by coaxing their for farmers trying to stay blurred vision, trembling Tony Avelar/The Associated Press 120,000 organic flowers to cus- fields to yield hundreds of afloat, much as finding inter- hands, headaches and dizzi- A yellow oriental lily and a marigold flower bloom inside the tomers around the country. harder-to-find varieties are esting new flowers, colors and ness. packing room of the Dautoff’s Exotic farm in Watsonville, Calif. Prolman gets most of his increasingly betting on organ- shapes helped them survive California still grows 72 roses in Colombia, where he ic flowers, a nascent industry when foreign competition was percent of domestically pro- roses,” said farmer Marc cides to wash from soils. They works with an organic grower that is taking bloom on the crushing local production in duced flowers. But today, 80 Kessler of California Organic also need to encourage bene- who can offer lower costs. But heels of the organic food the 1990s. percent of the flowers Ameri- Flowers, who grows more than ficial insects to protect against he gets organic tulips, laven- boom. “There’s going to be learn- cans buy are foreign, com- 100 varieties on two acres, destructive ones and rotate der, sunflowers and other Though the market for ing curve, because flowers pared to 45 percent fifteen then packages them for ship- crops. summer bouquets here, and organic flowers still is small — have to look good, and they’re years ago. ping around the country. Also, the wholesale buyers said he ultimately would like sales totaled $8 million in very susceptible to all kinds of That shift left a sad stamp “But organic gives us an who make up the bulk of the to rely more on local growers. 2003, a fraction of the $19.4 pests,” said Peggy Dillon, a on California’s coastal flower edge, and I can compete with mainstream flower market still On Dautoff’s 20-acre farm, billion consumers spent on all spokeswoman with the Cali- farms. There were 45 farmers unique varieties, special col- don’t want organic, said Dar- an old wooden sign left over flowers nationally — it’s grow- fornia Cut Flower Commis- growing roses in the Wat- ors and fragrances and fresh- rell Torchio, who has run a from when his parents started ing fast as consumers wary of sion. sonville area in 1991. Now, ness.” flower wholesale business in the business — Dautoff’s chemicals start looking for the “But the organic foods there are about 10, Dillon said. In spite of its promise, the San Francisco for 26 years. Daisies — reminds him of the same standard in other prod- movement took a while to Great greenhouses, once organic market remains limit- He deals with caterers, time when it was possible to ucts such as soaps, clothing, leave the health food store, fragrant with roses, loom ed, and the financial risks are wedding planners, florists, make a living growing one cosmetics — and Valentine’s and now it’s big business.” empty in the chilly fog next to substantial, which makes it and still hasn’t seen a surge in flower, and a common one at Day bouquets. The trouble in the flower Dautoff’s fields. Now it’s hard for Dautoff, who wishes demand. that. There’s no evidence that fields of Central California cheaper for San Francisco his whole farm could be “If they market it right, peo- His foray into organic also organic flowers are healthier, started in 1991, when the markets to fly them from chemical free. ple who like to buy organic will begin with one flower, but but consumers are increasing- United States reduced tariffs Colombia than buy the ones To halt the chemical cycle, could be interested in it,” Tor- he hopes it will spread to his ly willing to pay more for on flowers brought in from his neighbors used to grow. farmers need to leave fields chio said. “But the people exotics and something bigger products made without chem- Colombia and other South “I can’t compete on regular fallow for three years for pesti- using it commercially aren’t altogether. Counties struggle to Oil companies look to Container shipping control livestock odors future after good year forever changed trade By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER northern Missouri. By DAVID R. BAKER don’t trust that the flush By GEORGE RAINE The numbers are even THE ASSOCIATED PRESS In a county with a declin- SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE times will last. SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE larger today. A vessel capable ing population, limited indus- Conoco’s cash stockpile of carrying 6,600 20-foot con- SHELBYVILLE, Mo. — Hog try and young people leaving Say you’re an international grew 59.6 percent in 2005 to Globalization is having an tainers can carry 77,000 tons farmer Chuck Wood is no after high school graduation, oil company making more $2.2 billion. Chevron’s rose by anniversary. at up to 24.8 knots. stranger to stink. Around the potential investment by money than the gross domes- $752 million to top $10 billion. It was 50 years ago that “Containerization has here, they say, manure is the Cargill is at risk, said local tic product of Latvia. ExxonMobil’s cash was not Malcom McLean, an entre- transformed global trade in smell of money. farmer Mark Wilson. What do you do with all included on its earnings preneur from North Carolina, manufactured goods as dra- Some neighbors of north- “If you pass a health ordi- that cash? release. loaded a ship with 58 35-foot matically as jet planes have ern Missouri’s numerous fac- nance of any kind, you’ll put a More likely than not, ◆ Paying the Man. containers and sailed from changed the way we travel tory-size livestock operations ‘Closed for Business’ sign at you’re going to shower bil- Last year, ExxonMobil’s Newark, N.J., to Houston. and the Internet has changed are less effusive. They call the every entrance to Shelby lions of it on your stockhold- total taxes passed $98.6 billion, He wasn’t the only one to the way we communicate,” pervasive odors a public County,” he said at a recent ers. You’ll build up your own according to the company’s suggest that containers might said Joseph Bonney, editor of health threat, leading to res- public hearing. cash stockpile, in case you financial statements. make shipping more effi- the Journal of Commerce, the piratory illnesses and mood West of Shelby County, want to buy one of your Chevron’s hit $31.9 billion, and cient. But he was the first to bible of the shipping industry. disorders, not to mention Macon County commission- smaller peers. And you’ll Conoco’s were $28.3 billion. design a transportation sys- “The Asian economic miracle plummeting property values. ers approved an ordinance last pump billions more into Although the idea faces tem around the packaging of of the last two decades could In the past decade, more month requiring large-scale finding enough oil to replace stiff resistance from the cargo in huge metal boxes not have happened without than a dozen Missouri coun- livestock operators to obtain a all the barrels you’ve sold. industry and the White that could be loaded and the efficient transportation ties have passed health ordi- county health permit and sub- Buoyed by crude prices House, some politicians and unloaded by cranes. that containerized shipping nances restricting the location mit soil samples and approved that refuse to drop, America’s consumer advocates want a Container shipping even- provides.” of concentrated animal feed- waste disposal plans. largest oil firms have report- windfall tax imposed on oil tually replaced the tradition- Two books are to be pub- ing operations, or CAFOS. The largest livestock oper- ed record earnings in recent company profits or at least al “break-bulk” method of lished in April around the Several others, including Shel- ators must be at least a mile weeks. The jaw-dropping the industry’s tax breaks from handling crates, barrels and anniversary of McLean’s sail- by County, are debating such from occupied dwellings and numbers — almost $371 bil- last year repealed. bags, and stowing them loose ing. One, by Bonney of the ordinances even as state legis- at least two miles from simi- lion in annual revenue for Tyson Slocum, director of in a ship’s hold, a system in Journal of Commerce and lators mull whether to make it larly sized operations. ExxonMobil, with $36.1 bil- the energy program at the use since the days of the Arthur Donovan, a maritime more difficult for local govern- Farm owners also must lion in profit — prompted Public Citizen lobbying Phoenicians. Replacing historian, is called “The Box ments to do so. post bonds ranging from howls of protest from politi- group, said the money would break-bulk with cargo con- That Changed the World.” As Shelby County’s presid- $10,000 to $70,000 or more as cians and consumer advo- help pay for research into new tainers dramatically reduced The other is by economist ing commissioner, Wood, 61, protection against possible cates incensed by the high fuels to replace oil, the kind of shipping costs, reinvigorat- Marc Levinson, titled “The is caught in the middle of a waste spills. price of gasoline. research President Bush tout- ing markets and fueling the Box: How the Shipping Con- debate pitting neighbor Emotions about the new Most of the attention has ed in his State of the Union. world economy. tainer Made the World Small- against neighbor in a tight- Macon County ordinance focused on how the firms ◆ Paying the boss. McLean, who died in 2001 er and the World Economy knit, rural community desper- run raw. make their profits. But with Oil firm chief executive at 87, shares the credit with Bigger.” They describe the ate for economic salvation. More than 200 mostly so much money flowing in officers were well compensat- Matson Navigation Co. of San sweeping change to a world “They don’t want to limit angry citizens packed the the door, how are the compa- ed in 2005, according to the Francisco, a longtime force in of lower shipping costs. growth; they don’t want a county courthouse Jan. 12, nies spending it? Forbes magazine annual list Pacific shipping. Two years Both tell the story of health ordinance,” Wood threatening their commis- ◆ Keeping the stockhold- of top-paid chief executives after McLean loaded his ship, McLean, who began his said. “But they sure don’t sioners with retribution at the ers happy. ExxonMobil chief execu- the Ideal-X, Matson’s Hawai- McLean Trucking Co. in want a hog farm next to them next election and shouting A look through the annual tive Lee Raymond, who ian Merchant inaugurated North Carolina with a single without a say in it.” down speakers who support reports of America’s three retired at the end of last year, container shipping in the vehicle in March 1934 and State law requires indus- the ordinance. largest oil firms — ExxonMo- made about $25.8 million, Pacific, carrying 20 24-foot- went on to make a fortune. trial-size livestock operations Weathered farmhands bil, Chevron and Cono- according to Forbes. long cargo holders from He told people that the con- — those with at least 7,000 trembled with emotion as coPhillips — shows one obvi- James Mulva of Conoco Alameda, Calif., to Honolulu. tainer-shipping concept beef cattle, 17,500 hogs or they described the perceived ous beneficiary. Any investor made about $16.8 million, The world took note of came to him early in his 700,000 chickens — with ani- threats to their livelihood. with a lot of oil company while Chevron’s David O’Reil- McLean’s Sea-Land operation career when he had to cool mals primarily confined “This is about property stock had a very good 2005. ly made roughly $8.2 million. in the Atlantic and Matson in his heels at Hoboken, N.J., inside to be at least 3,000 feet rights; this is about freedom,” ◆ Finding more oil. ◆ Politics. the Pacific, and containeriza- waiting his turn to load bales from a residence. Smaller said Rosemary Britt, a fourth- With their profits now The oil industry long has tion began to take hold. of cotton on a ship. He real- facilities can be as close as generation cattle farmer. soaring, oil firms are pouring been famed for its lobbying In 1959, according to Mat- ized it would save time and 2,000 feet to a home. “You don’t understand what’s money into the hunt for more clout. As an industry, it spent son research, the industry money if he could simply Those standards, enforced at stake here.” oil, as well as maintaining about $25.7 million on political was loading and unloading load his trailer onto a ship. by the Missouri Department The public division and their billions of dollars’ worth donations in the 2004 election 0.627 tons per man hour. By He decided to get into the of Natural Resources, are woe- hostility pains Wood, who of pumps, pipelines and cycle, according to the Center 1976, with container shipping shipping business. fully inadequate, said Putnam plans to add 2,500 hogs at a refineries across the globe. for Responsive Politics. Exxon- well established, the figure Another milestone for County farmer Terry Spence. second facility nine miles For years, exploration Mobil gave $935,016, Chevron was 4,234 tons per man hour. container shipping occurred Spence’s home near the south of the 2,400 hogs next spending remained relatively gave $499,242 and Conoco A ship’s time in port shrank in Vietnam, Levinson writes. Iowa border is two miles from to his Clarence home. The flat, even though many com- $372,828. All three gave more from three weeks to 18 hours. During the rapid troop build- 80,000 hogs owned by Premi- expansion is far from any panies were having a hard than 80 percent of their dona- In 1950, an average com- up of 1965, the military was um Standard Farms Inc. neighbors, he notes. time finding enough new oil tions to Republicans. mercial vessel could carry flummoxed with the prob- “I wouldn’t wish that on After meeting with legisla- to replace what they sold. Note, however, that the oil 10,000 tons at a speed of 16 lems of getting supplies to the anybody,” he said. tive leaders in Jefferson City, ◆ Saving some for later. industry isn’t Washington’s knots. With container ship- war zone with one primitive The talk of public health Wood said the commission- You don’t have to spend top contributor. By the cen- ping, the average commercial port on the Saigon River and restrictions comes as Cargill ers will put the Shelby health cash, after all. Some of it ter’s tally, it ranks No. 16, vessel carried 40,000 tons at a a partially functioning rail- Pork looks to expand its con- ordinance on hold pending could prove handy in case behind, among others, speed of 23 knots, Matson road. Container shipping tract livestock operations in state action. you want to buy a rival or lawyers and doctors. said. worked.
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