Friday, May 13, 2011
The Internet Giveth and the USDA Taketh Away
An officer of the SITC (Smuggling Interdiction and Trade Compliance) showed up on Monday to confiscate the lemon tree I'd been nurturing for 3 years. Does Glenn Beck know about this latest conspiracy by the federal government? Jesse Ventura should probably do an expose. Those two could figure out what's really going on.
I was sitting on a shady outdoor patio with my kids, and downing some Mexican food on a warm afternoon when my cell phone rang. Does anyone ever relay happy information by cell phone? Mine only seems to ring if someone wants me to do something for them, inform me of something I've done wrong, or give me bad news. So when my phone rang during lunch I cringed and answered. On the other end of the line was my husband to tell me that someone from the federal government was there.
"He wants to confiscate your lemon tree."
My husband called local law enforcement who arrived on the scene only to be equally confused by the entire scenario. Let's just say we don't live in a state where it's usual for anyone to even OWN a citrus tree let alone be up to date on quarantines and the laws concerning them. The police officer did acknowledge that the SITC agent did indeed have the authority to confiscate the tree. As he pulled it out of its pot he said "See? It was root bound anyway."
Really? You are going to take my tree and then insult my gardening skills?
I'm glad I was shopping and not at home to witness all of this first hand. My husband was very proud to inform me that he didn't let it go without a fight. I'm just glad he didn't punch the guy in an effort to defend my horticultural honor...or something.
Apparently the internet company I purchased the tree from had illegally transported the trees it sold from Florida to Georgia where the company operated. The agent informed my husband that the sales records had been seized and they were now in the process of scouring the country for these potentially infected trees.
Here's the link to read about plant health and quarantines and those pesky laws: USDA.
Now as a Southerner and a gardener, I get it. We all wish someone had foreseen the woes caused by kudzu or that Asian fish that eats all the other fish in a lake. While I understand that the USDA is working to protect not only the home citrus grower but also the entire citrus industry, still...the whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth.