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Re: Another Windmill for Tilting?

  • Subject: Re: Another Windmill for Tilting?
  • From: Ken Mosher <ken@spatulacity.com>
  • Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2013 17:29:01 -0500


To answer your questions:

1) Probably virtually none.

2) No, I wouldn't go all quixotic on this issue.  A man 1/3 of your age wouldn't get anywhere with it in his lifetime.

Not that I'd ever counsel anyone to break the law (not publicly, anyway), when sending small packages via the postal service there is almost no chance the package will be opened and inspected.  If you and your British trading partner were simply to box up a small number of tubers and declare something like "birthday gift" on the customs form you are both very likely to receive your packages without drama.

Naturally I have no personal experience with such subterfuge, but I've heard stories whispered in the corners of smoky bars in disreputable sections of town.

Good growing,

On 1/27/2013 9:19 AM, DAVID LEEDY wrote:

Condition #3 on my Permit to Import Plants:  "A phytosanitary certificate must accompany all propagative material imported under this permit."


I am corresponding with an individual in the UK growing plants in his back yard as I am doing here.  I would like to obtain two or three bulbs of one of the plants he is growing (an Arum).  The cost and other requirements of the authorities in the UK are so burdensome as to prohibit the type of exchange we would like to make.


He states:  "If you have tangled with Plant Health in the UK you will understand why I don't want to get wrapped up in it. Last time I worked with the system it would only accept applications for imports through the online system, and the online system would only accept shipments of fruit and vegetables in container loads. The telephone helpline advised me to lie on my application! I."


Today, I received a letter from Michael Watson, Acting Executive Director of APHIS (USDA), in response to my inquiry, stating: 


“…there is no exception to the regulatory requirement for a phytosanitary certificate when importing small quantities of bulbs or tubers.  Bulbs and tubers are a more likely pathway for pests and disease.  Accordingly, we require that the importer obtain a phytosanitary certificate issued by the national plant health authorities of the country of export.   These certificates provide assurance that the plant or plant product has been inspected and found free of plant pests and diseases prior to its entry into the United States.  While we understand that obtaining a phytosanitary certificate may be inconvenient and can add to the cost of doing business, we assure you that this requirement is necessary to protect American agriculture.”


I really have two questions:


1.        How much American agriculture is really protected by this requirement, particularly as it relates to exchanges of small quantities of bulbs and tubers between hobbyists?   Is anyone aware of any studies?


2.       Is this a windmill worth tilting at?  Believe me, I am 73 years old, retired, and not above taking up lost causes and I have even won some of these.


Please pass this on to anyone who might be able to contribute an idea or suggestion.


David Leedy


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