Tuesday, June 22, 2010

California Bureaucrats Fight Earthworm Dung

Farming comprises a myriad of products. We have beef, and apples, and pork, and oranges, lemons and wheat, corn, potatoes and rice, nuts and berries, melons, poultry, and soybeans.

And then there are earthworms, which can be sold in bulk as bait or to farmers, professional and DYI’ers.

George Hahn is an entrepreneur. He harvests the earthworm dung, the droppings, the feces, the excrement, packages it, and sells it as Worm Gold, a natural, organic fertilizer.

As we know, going back to the studies of Charles Darwin, earthworms are a rich, natural fertilizer. They can strengthen the natural resistance of plants to bugs.
They also aerate the soil. Earthworms and their droppings do not kill bugs. They have no direct effect on the bugs.

Hahn seized upon these virtues of earthworm dung to market it as a natural fertilizer, reaping $1.6 million in sales from April 2003 to June 2005. That’s a pile of worm dung. I have no idea what the price per gross is. He has registered his products with the state of California as “fertilizer.”

And then the bureaucrats, in the form of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation pulled a stinker in 2007. It accused Hahn of marketing a pesticide and levied a $100,000 fine last fall for not submitting his product to the Department for years of extensive, scientific testing.

As I understand the suffix “cide,” it means to kill, such as homicide, pesticide, rodenticide, herbicide, spermicide, or suicide.

The State Department of Pesticide Regulation though claims an expansive definition of “pesticide” to include anything that’s promoted to help a plant resist or repel any pest. That definition, of course, would include water and sunlight, and perhaps throwing a few geckos into the garden..

These are bureaucrats. The United Farm Workers contend their sons and daughters are dying in the Central Valley because of pesticide poisoning. The Department is not doing anything about the real victims of pesticides. Instead, they flyspeck worm crap at a tremendous waste of state money and resources.

A state, which is going bankrupt, is obsessed with worm dung, making a mountain of dung out of a mound.

How symbolic!

Maybe the agency thought Hahn would roll over when confronted with the full weight of the state. A worm dung farmer should stand little chance against the colossus of the state.

Instead, he enlisted the help of the Pacific Legal Foundation, which exists to vindicate the rights, especially property rights, of landowners and others against expansive state and federal intrusions.

Represented by Chapman’s alum, Tim Sandefur, Hahn filed suit against the agency, stopping the fines, at least for now. Tim has publicly airated the agency's dip into the dung.

Here's hoping Tim wins one for the wormer.

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