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Arisaema Enthusiast Group (AEG) Discussion List (and other= Arisaema Enthusiast Group (AEG) Discussion List (and other=
Tue Mar 8 20:24:13 CET 2005

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From: Barry Yinger <asiatica at NNI.COM>
Subject: Re: APHIS proposed changes to nursery stock regulations
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> You may or may not be aware that USDA-APHIS is proposing major
> changes in the regulations for the importation of nursery stock, i.e.
> what they are now calling "plants for planting", which means ALL
> plant parts capable of growing - rooted and non-rooted cuttings and
> plants, seeds, corms, bulbs and tubers.

In my "real job" for a mega-nursery (the one that pays the bills) I
have been involved with this issue for quite a while.  As a 31 year
veteran of plant collecting and introduction from Asia, and owner of a
nursery selling rare new plants, I will, on a personal level, have to
deal with the outcome.

Change is coming and there is no stopping it.  I harbor no love for
government regulation or the regulators, but it needs to be
acknowledged that in this case there really are some officials involved
who care about the impact of the revised regulations.  Nevertheless,
new regulations will transform plant introduction/importation, and most
of us will not like it much.

ANLA, American Nurserymen and Landscape Assoc., has been coordinating
the nursery industry's response.  Craig Regelbruger has done a lot of
wonderful work, but as Marge suggests, almost all the lobbying will be
directed at making the regulations acceptable to the nursery industry
which often has a different point of view from small growers and
hobbyists.  Tony Avent at Plant Delights is the only small nursery
owner I know (besides me) who has been active in making suggestions
about the new regulations.

I believe that new regulations will not stop new plant introduction,
but it will become feasible only for large nurseries with considerable
financial resources.  Even now, with stricter phytosanitary
requirements already in place, it is very, very difficult for
individuals to introduce plants alive from many countries.

If you care about this issue, please contact your representative or
senator.  Please point out:

The ornamental horticulture industry is the number one, two, or three
most important agricultural industry in many states (you can get the
info for your state from your state agriculture department.)

It is still largely a collection of small to medium size family owned
businesses that, unlike most agricultural enterprises, do not receive
farm welfare.  It is one of the few kinds of agriculture still
accessible to young people who do not have a thousand acres and a
million dollars to get started.

New plants are the lifeblood of the nursery industry.  They drive sales
and profits.  Nurseries these days don't just compete with other
nurseries to sell plants.  They compete with other lifestyle
industries.  If customers cannot find new and exciting plants for sale,
many will not choose another plant, they will choose another leisure

While I am on my soapbox, I think everyone should take a closer look at
the history of how invasive plants have become established in this
country.  Here in Pennsylvania, as in most places, the most serious
invasives are not escapees from home gardens.  They were promoted and
planted by the millions by state and federal conservation agencies for
erosion control and game cover (Amur honeysuckle, multiflora rose,
oriental bittersweet, barberry, Japanese honeysuckle).  Of all the
invasive plants in my home area (I was born and raised here) only one
is clearly an escape from home gardens: Norway maple.  When you think
of how many thousands of exotic plants are imported and grown, the
number of invasives is very small.  That doesn't mean that we should
not care, but it does mean that we should pay attention and take action
when we see a problem emerging.  The notorious Polygonum perfoliatum
(mile a minute) was accidentally introduced at the Dauber Nursery in
York, PA in the 1920s.  It took about seventy years to travel the 12
miles to my farm, and then it exploded throughout the Northeast.  It
should be called "mile a decade".  For at least 50 years, this plant
could have been eliminated by a troop of brownie scouts with hand
trowels, but no one cared until it was too late. If we combine a
sensible approach to introduction with an early warning system for
control, everyone will be happy.

As Ellen points out, we don't "need" new plants, but we don't need much
more than potatoes, milk and sunshine to survive either, so why bother
with all those other foods.  Let's just stand in the sun every day and
eat our mashed potatoes.

Barry Yinger, USDA Zone 6, Lewisberry, Pennsylvania USA

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