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Originally published: 2013-04-15 20:13:11
Last modified: 2013-04-15 20:13:10

Seeds of tyranny

Thomas Jefferson, noted agrarian and one of the country's founders, once said, "My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government." Jefferson would be doubly horrified by a new measure creeping its way into law like poison ivy choking a tender sapling.

House Bill 379 sounds like worse than mere bad government: "The Board of Agriculture shall have the sole authority to prohibit the planting, cultivation, harvesting, disposal, handling, or movement of plants as defined in G.S. 106-202.12."

The existing statute (G.S. 106-202.12) is primarily designed to address plant protection and conservation, yet this new proposed legislation is unlimited. Indeed, it borrows the definition of "plant" as "any member of the plant kingdom, including seeds, roots and other parts or their propagules."

That covers your front-porch tomatoes, your backyard marigolds, those sunflower seeds in your kitchen cabinet, the broccoli in your refrigerator and the shade and fruit trees on your property.

It would also give the state the ability to control seed crops and sources, planting methods, production quotas and, indeed, every level of agriculture. Such broad and oppressive legislation also opens the door to regulations on how often you must mow your lawn and to what height, what types of trees you can cut for firewood, what brand of feed you can give your livestock and where and when you can buy and sell produce, wood and almost every other plant-based organic material. We already live in a land where our neighbor can't sell us a jar of homemade pickles because the state doesn't trust us to feed ourselves.

The best-case scenario if this bill passes is a board that can react swiftly to address environmental threats and food-security issues. But have any of us ever seen a "best case" from the government?

The more likely result is a group of politicians colluding with large corporations to further restrict the rights of citizens to engage in one of our basic freedoms -- making our own decisions about the food we buy, grow, and eat.

Tell Sen. Dan Soucek and Rep. Jonathan Jordan that you want the government to stay off your lawn, away from your garden, and out of your refrigerator.

Scott Nicholson