With the Presidential election on our doorstep as I write this column, I can't help but project on the impact it will have on this industry. I have always stayed away from political discussion in the pages of Grounds Maintenance, but I will make an exception — because I can (after all, this is “Editor's Insight”), because it applies to the grounds-care industry. Up to this point, Iraq and the terrorism threat are the focus of the candidates and mass media. However, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) appointments and direction, immigration and the economy will have the most direct impact on our industry.
The EPA sets the pesticide regulatory rules (including product registration and use) in this country. Those in charge set the direction of the Agency and determine how and to what extent our pesticide products are regulated. It is critical that we have science-based decision making within the EPA rather than the emotionally fueled, agenda-driven decisions that we have seen under past administrations (remember Alar?). I feel more comfortable having the top levels of the EPA filled with individuals who are career pesticide regulators who know and respect both sides of the issues. The candidate who proposes to do this will be closer to getting my vote.
Immigration is a touchy issue. On one side is the security aspect as well as displacement of U.S. citizen workers. On the other side is the foundation on which this country was built — after all, with the exception of Native Americans that make up slightly less than 1 percent of the population, we are a country of immigrants. We have to balance both sides for a workable solution. Legal immigrants and guest workers are an integral part of the grounds-care industry. They represent a dedicated, loyal, family-oriented work force that has a strong stake in doing well on the job. Of course, there must be controls on the immigration process to disallow illegal immigrants and provide a fair method of gaining naturalization and support for a guest-worker system. The candidate who best addresses this issue will be closer to getting my vote.
The economy is a big question that directly and indirectly affects our lives and businesses. From the aspect of small businesses, I'm looking for proposals to encourage the growth of small businesses through such things as tax incentive, streamlining regulations, limiting frivolous litigation and reduced paper work. If either of the three candidates has an emphasis on supporting small business, I'll consider them.
Of course we have to look at the broader picture of what the candidates have to offer. We can't boil our choices down to only these three criteria; but for what it is worth, these are the important points that I feel will impact our industry.
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