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Clarence Mahan/Graham Spencer correspondence

Thanks for your mail Clarence.
And thanks for your kind offer to include us in International News in the
The certification we need for export works something like this:
- we have to get an inspector from MAFF-PHSI (Ministry of Agriculture
Fisheries and Food, Plant Heath and Seeds Inspectorate) to come out and test
our soil for all the notifiable pests which the USDA requires our stock to be
free from before they let it into the US. Fortunately, there is really only
one that we have to worry about - Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN). This is very
widespread in Europe, but not very common in the US - it causes reduced yeild
and quality in potato crops, and attaches itself to the roots of plants. This
inspection costs around #100 (about US$150), but is a one-off cost.
- each consignment then has to be inspected. This also attracts a fee, but if
you have twenty or so consignments to be checked at once, the cost is spread
between them.
- we then have a phytosanitary certificate which goes with the plants to you,
and (supposedly) proves they are free of serious pests.

Up until about 1991, we had to do this for all countries outside of the UK -
even France and Germany. Thankfully we now have a nursery inspection scheme
which means that we get an inspection every year (in fact, usually every two
or three years) and (if we are "clean") a certificate which allows us to send
plants throughout the European Union without further inspection, provided we
mark each plant with our certificate number. Unfortunately, these scheme only
covers the EU, and we still have to go through the whole rigmarole described
above for other countries. Also, this scheme doesn't cover PCN.

The main problem is that if the inspector finds PCN on our land, he has the
power (in fact he is obliged to) schedule our land. This means that we would
be prohibited by law from moving any plants from our land to another site -
in other words, he could close us down!
This is daft, because PCN is virtually endemic throughout Europe. But that is
what the rules say.
What we plan to do is to get an independent inspector to check our soil - in
fact, our local PHSI man has said that he would check us out in an
off-the-record manner because he is keen to get us exporting outside the EU -
so not all bureaucrats and officials are bad!

I have had such a good response from my message yesterday that I am keen to
go ahead with this - I will keep iris-l users informed!
If we did get this going, I think our main market would be AIS and HIPS
members, rather than the general public, and we would concentrate on the
older stuff to begin with, with newer European varieties added later.

Thanks for your encouragement.

Graham Spencer
Croftway Nursery, UK

Still cold - another frost tonight!

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