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Re: Proposed USDA Regulations


Linda,

There is a good deal of fact in this information.  It is NOT an Urban
Legend, but a very serious issue that, if implemented in its present
form, will adversely affect all gardeners in this country.  What you
have posted comes from the J. L. HUDSON, SEEDSMAN site:

http://www.jlhudsonseeds.net/USDAComment.htm#Letter to Congress

and refers to the Draft Action Plan for the Noxious Weed Program,
which can be read in .pdf format (you need Adobe Acrobat plugin)
here:

http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppq/weeds/weedsjan2002-pub.pdf

The USDA currently has the power, vested in the Plant Protection Act
that was signed into law by President Clinton a couple years ago, to
restrict through regulation and permit requirements the shipment of
plants, seeds, plant parts, and propagules interstate.  They are not,
currently doing this with the exception of known and listed noxious
weeds, but they have the power and if this Draft plan is implemented,
I fear the day when they use this power will not be far off.  Should
they choose to exercise it, they have the right to fine any of us for
sending seeds or plants across state lines.  At the moment, this only
relates to known and listed noxious weeds, but if this Draft proposal
is implemented, it will soon include all plants that have not made it
onto their 'clean' list.

More worrying to me are the proposals in this draft that would
implement risk assessment and weediness screening of ALL plants and
the development of what is termed a "modified clean list", which
means that any plant NOT on this list could not be sold, traded or
given away by anybody.  In reality, it is not possible to screen
every plant now known or yet to be discovered for every ecosystem in
this country.  This means, in reality, that any new plants would
simply be banned, as well as many now in cultivation.   

The really scary part is that in order to implement risk assessment,
they would likely use a model proposed by Dr. Sara Reichard of the
University of Washington, USDA advisor on invasive plants.  This
model would ban (according to a post by Tony Avent who talked to her)
40% of the plants that we commonly grow in our gardens, and which are
not invasive.  It would also mean that a plant that is invasive in
Hawaii would be banned throughout the US, whether it had a chance of
survival in other climates or not.  We all know that one person's
weed is another's treasure, depending on where you are trying to grow
the plant.  One size does not fit all the climates in this vast
country.

Further, such policies require adequate, scientifically verified
methods of predicting which species would be "invasive" and all
scientific attempts at such predictions have failed.

USDA is moving steadily ahead in implementing restrictive regulations
in the guise of controlling weeds and invasive plants.  They are not
dealing with the causes, only with implementing restrictions that
will, ultimately, result in banning all plants that are not on a
list.  Currently, they maintain a list of known, proven noxious
weeds.  This is perfectly adequate.  They also propose guidelines for
adding and removing plants from this list...I have no quarrel with
those.

I do feel, however, very strongly about a 'clean' or 'white' list and
subjecting all plants to some sort of 'risk assessment'.  It is not a
practical, feasible matter and, if implemented, will end our freedom
to grow what we want; to buy, trade and send seeds and plants as we
see fit.  Noxious weeds and invasive plants are not caused by
ornamental gardening.  

There is one week left for public comment on this Draft proposal.  I
urge EVERYBODY to send email and copies to your legislators and the
USDA.  The Hudson seed site has made this very easy to do.  It
provides links to find your legislators and a guide letter to use.  

I urge everybody to educate themselves on these issues.  But, if you
simply cannot spend that time, at least copy and send the guide
letter if you care about biological diversity and our right as
citizens and gardeners to send and receive and grow the plants that
we want to grow.

This is very serious and time is growing short.  They have not
allowed enough time for public comment, nor has USDA made sufficient
effort to inform the public.  They do not include representatives of
the gardening world among their advisors or stakeholders; they are
simply ignoring the impact on gardeners and the nurseries that supply
us with our plants.

The Time To ACT is NOW!

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
mtalt@hort.net
Editor:  Gardening in Shade
-----------------------------------------------
Current Article: Online Nurseries 2002 - Garden Vision
http://www.suite101.com/welcome.cfm/shade_gardening
------------------------------------------------
Complete Index of Articles by Category and Date
http://mtalt.hort.net/article-index.html
------------------------------------------------
All Suite101.com garden topics :
http://www.suite101.com/topics.cfm/635

----------
> From: Linda Wallpe <lwallpe@juno.com>
> 
> Fellow Perennial List Members:
> The following was sent to me by an Iris person.  they seem to
believe
> this information is factual (I hate the Urban Legend things and try
to
> keep from forwarding them on).  
> She is concerned that the USDA is now trying to stop interstate
movement
> of seeds now, not just foreign importation.
> Does anyone know if this is true?
> Thanks,
> Linda Wallpe
> Cincinnati
> PS>  There was much more, I cut it for brevity.  If anyone wants
the
> entire thing, I will be glad to forward it.
> 
> USDA Plans Severe Gardening Restrictions
> Direct quotes from USDA Action Plan
> "Clean list" - Everything not on government approved list banned. 
> Penalties - $1000 for home gardeners, up to $250,000 for nurseries.

> Interstate movement of seeds - Prohibited without permit and
inspection. 
> Send objections to the USDA
> Write your representative (Sample letter)
> What President Bush says
> Your help is needed. The USDA is now accepting public comments on
their
> Draft Action Plan for the Noxious Weeds Program, which includes the
> "clean list" or "white list" proposal. They are now going beyond
the
> clean list and are stating that they intend to require permits and
> inspections for ALL seeds and plants moving interstate  this will
> effectively shut down many popular seed exchanges like the North
American
> Rock Garden Society exchange and the Seed Savers Exchange. These
> exchanges have been hailed as important means of preserving
biodiversity.
> How many home seed savers will be willing to get appropriate
licenses and
> inspections when they cost a minimum of $100 (for a nursery stock
or seed
> license here in California). Penalties of up to $250,000 are
proposed
> with a minimum fine of $1000 even for home gardeners. Please link
to this
> page.
> 
> Contact Alan.V.Tasker@usda.gov and state you are opposed to the
"clean
> list" and any permit or inspection requirements for interstate
movement
> of seeds and plants. State that the Draft Action Plan for the
Noxious
> Weeds Program is unacceptable must be halted, additional time for
public
> comment allowed, and no new restrictions on the free flow of any
seeds
> and plants that are not listed noxious weeds be put in place.
> Send 4 copies of your comments to:
> Docket No. 01-034-1
> Regulatory Analysis and Development
> PPD, APHIS Suite 3C03
> 4700 River Road, Unit 118
> Riverdale, MD 20737-1238
> 
> This is necessary so that your e-mails will not simply be deleted.
> Last year, the USDA requested comments on its clean list proposal -
they
> received an overwhelming response - 8 to 1 against, yet they are
ignoring
> the clear will of the American people. The government tried to
impose a
> clean list policy three times during the 1970s, and had to back
down each
> time due to negative response from biologists. Apparently, "no" is
not an
> acceptable response.
> 
> The public comment period ends March 29th, but it is important to
keep up
> pressure even after this date, particularly by writing your
> representatives.
> 
> The USDA is clearly out of touch with the American people. They
just got
> through the huge furor when they tried to impose "Organic Rules"
which
> allowed irradiation and toxic sewage sludge use. They have also
> instituted new phytosanitary certificate requirements which they
admit
> are designed to prevent you from ordering from overseas. Please
object to
> the new phytosanitary rules in your letter, too.
> 
> Write to your representatives and demand that the out-of-control
USDA be
> reined in.
> 
> These proposals fundamentally change the regulations on the
importation
> and distribution of plants. Currently, you may import, possess and
> distribute all plants except a few known harmful species that are
banned
>  a "blacklist" approach in which everything is permitted except
what is
> prohibited. The new Clean List (or white list) policy is the
opposite 
> everything is prohibited except what is on a government-approved
"clean
> list" of species that the USDA permits. This will effectively ban
99% of
> the species on the planet. The clean list or white list has been
called
> an internet hoax, and the agencies involved have actually sent out
> letters denying they have such plans  go to their website and read
for
> yourself what they say:
> http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppq/weeds/
> See Weed Action Plan - 4th blue box down on the right.
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> How to Contact Your Members of Congress in Washington, DC
> Contact information and a search by state for Senators and Members
of the
> House of Representatives is as follows:</TD
> 
> Find your Senators at:
> http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index_by_state.cfm. </TD
> 
> Find your Congressperson at: http://www.house.gov/writerep/ </TD
> 
>
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