“Economics in Eight Words: There ain’t no such thing as free lunch.” –El Paso Herald-Post, June 27, 1938
We now arrive at the heart of the issue. How much money will we need? And who is going to pay for it? How will the money be collected? Who will decide how it is spent?
According to my internet research, milk, beef and cotton all spend between $20-40 million annually to get their message out to the world, and they enjoy a recognition of 80-90% of Americans. One to two million dollars is considered to be a nominal amount, so insignificant that the impact makes it not really worth the investment. The figures above are just the cost of the advertising. There are many other significant expenses of administration and research.
They raise the money involuntarily; the producers are compelled by law to pay monies to the respective ad boards.
This is where the reality hits us. To make an impact in the way that milk, beef and others have done, we must have a staggering amount of money. And the only way to get that much money is by an act of Congress (literally).
Before we go any further in the discussion, we must answer the question, will this campaign funding be voluntary or not?
I think the reality is, until we can prove that it will work, it has to be voluntary.
If it is voluntary, three things will happen: a very small percentage will contribute (the amount will be perhaps as much as a million but probably far less), the impact will be small, and the freeloaders willing to have the other suckers foot the bill for them will say, “See, I told you it wouldn’t work.” Can we doubt that without the force of law the vast majority of nurseries will not contribute? Consider the appalling lack of participation in the ANLA now. A shocking number of growers are willing to let a small percentage of firms pay for all of the lobbying efforts. If it weren’t for the innovative Lighthouse program, our representation in Washington would be non-existent because we wouldn’t be able to voluntarily fund it.
Given the limitation of funding, we have to reevaluate the goal (sell more plants) and see how this might be achieved without a big glitzy full-blown campaign.
What do you think? Should we push to pass a law that says all nurseries must pay for marketing? Is there anyone at all willing to propose that? Or is that the kiss of death? Is there some other way of policing this, of punishing those who don’t contribute?