Restricions by Legislative Bodies Hamper a Legitimate Business- What Should the Nurseryman Do-Unjust Restrictions.

An echo from the June 1904 issue:

An examination of recent horticultural legislation lately enacted in various states and provinces of the United States and Canada bearing directly upon the sale and distribution of nursery products between one state and another, and often between one county and another within the same state, leads one to wonder whether the propagation of nursery products is a legitimate calling, or one that should be classed with gambling and other disreputable business that must be licensed and controlled under police regulations.

If restrictions that have lately been placed upon the nursery business, in the form of horticultural legislation, keep on growing as they have in the past few years, it will be utterly impossible for nurserymen to ship nursery stock beyond the confines of the county in which their nurseries may be located. One would have thought that with the stringent inspection laws that have been imposed upon the nursery business, especially in the Pacific Coast states within the past ten or fifteen years; that horticultural interests would be sufficiently protected without further imposing upon the nursery business additional and unreasonable legislation in the form of laws compelling the nurserymen to give surety bonds and take out licenses for themselves and their salesmen, as is the case in many of the states and provinces of the United States and Canada. If the nursery business is a legitimate one in which honest men may engage, why is it that they are put under such restrictions, while the orchardists that surround them are allowed to have infected and diseased trees, and ship fruit that is not only diseased but infested with insect pests, without any objection being raised by the authorities, and often with their consent and approval. There must be something fundamentally wrong with a law that can single out one particular branch of a business, and the citizens who engage in this particular branch, while others whose goods are just as dangerous, and more so, to the interests of the country, are not subject to any restraint whatsoever.

Primary object of laws

Primarily, horticultural laws were supposed to be enacted in the interests of horticulture generally, and as a protection to all branches of this industry, but instead of being enforced in the interests of the whole people, the nursery business alone is singled out as the one branch of horticulture in which it is necessary to enforce these horticultural laws, and as a consequence the nursery business often receives great injury from the ignorance and prejudice of horticultural inspectors while the real breeding grounds of disease and insect pests – old orchards, parks and private grounds – are allowed to continue to propagate these diseases and insect pests, regardless of the danger to the nursery that may be located close by, and while the nurseryman is supposed to keep his trees and plants free from disease and insect pests, or the appearance of them, the old orchard goes unchallenged as a menace to his business.

There is not a more careful or pains- taking class of men to be found anywhere than the nurserymen, always trying to grow their trees and plants clean and healthy and free from diseases of all kinds, while the fruit-grower is often allowed to ship his fruit over the entire country indiscriminately, without restraint or inspection; yet the nursery is not allowed to move a single tree or plant until it has been inspected by some person appointed as a horticultural inspector who knows infinitely less about these pests and diseases than the nurseryman does himself.

If it is a misdemeanor for a nurseryman to propagate his trees and plants in a state where scale, or other insects pests may have been found (as would appear from the laws enacted in many states), it ought to be even a greater crime for orchards, and other infected trees, to be allowed to grow and propagate insect pests and diseases in close proximity to a nursery without any action being taken on the part of the inspector or other horticultural officer, as is too often the case, thus endangering the very existence of the business that has been compelled to bear the whole burden of horticultural laws.

In studying this question, we ask why are these things so? Any honest, intelligent man who will study the question carefully must admit that nurserymen have been unjustly dealt with in the enactment and execution of horticultural laws, and why? Probably because the formation, enactment and enforcement of such laws have been left largely to politicians and office-holders, while the fruit-grower and nurseryman, the parties most interested in this subject has been content to sit back and leave the enactment of such laws to men who do not know anything about the requirements of such legislation, and care less, for the business of the citizens who may be engaged in it.

As a protection to his business, shall the nurseryman attempt to have these laws entirely expunged from the statute books, or will it be wiser for the nurserymen to organize so that they may guide legislation in the future and see that horticultural laws are enacted, and those already enacted remedied so that horticultural interests be amply protected and no branch of the business injured thereby. The nurserymen should see to it that not only the horticultural laws are remedied, but that they are so constructed that all orchards, fruit parks and private grounds, and other places of danger to the propagation of diseases and pests are inspected and kept clean, and that the same laws, rules and regulations are applied to these places as are applied to nurseries. How can nurserymen be expected to have clean trees and plants when orchards surrounding them are infected with all manner of diseases and pests? When the horticultural authorities see to it that parks and permanent trees are kept clean and free from diseases and insect pests, there will be but very little call for a nursery inspection, for there will then be no source from which the nurseryman’s trees and plants can be infected.

That much good has already come from horticultural laws no intelligent nurseryman would dispute, and we do not think that anyone would want to go back to the old slipshod method of doing business, but we do believe that nurserymen should be accorded the same treatment and have the same protection as others, and the same rules and regulations which are applied to the nurserymen should also be applied to orchardists and those having dangerous or infected trees and fruit.

In order to accomplish this end and receive justice, the nurserymen of the country must organize, and this can probably best be done through the National Association, and in such a manner that all laws bearing upon their business will be reviewed and bills brought before the various legislatures modifying and reconstructing present laws so that they will work in harmony, fairness and justice to all concerned. This can only be done by a strong, permanent organization that will be prepared at all times to take hold of legislation when bills are about to be presented to states’ legislatures; for so long as the nurserymen of America allow the office-holder, and those who live off the prosecution of these laws to formulate and pass them through the legislature, so long will they be made to bear unjustly upon the nursery interests, and the only relief is for the nurserymen to organize and see that these bills when they come before the various legislatures are prepared in such a manner that they can be honestly and fairly enforced, and that protection which is necessary be given to all the parties interested.

Unjust regulations

It is quite useless for an individual nurseryman to attempt to fight horticultural authorities when he has been unjustly dealt with, for as a rule a horticultural officer is not financially responsible himself, and we do not know of a single case where the state compels such an officer to be under bond, although they are often clothed with authority to condemn and destroy the property of a nurseryman.

No man should be given such authority that he can enter upon the property of another and condemn and quarantine such property, and in this way virtually destroy it, without being under bonds so that he may be held responsible when he condemns such property on account of ignorance or prejudice, and it should be very easy for the nurserymen to impress upon the state legislative bodies the importance of placing all horticultural officers and inspectors under heavy bond so that the interests of not only the nurserymen, but of the fruit-growers as well, would be amply protected from ignorant and unscrupulous men. Not until the nurserymen enter the field of state legislation and insist upon laws being enacted that are fair and just; and that inspectors and horticultural officers are put under bonds will they ever receive strict justice.