Friday, 10 August 2012

The License Story

From the Commonwealth of Virginia, in 1780….there were zero regulations over farmers. I know this is shocking, but it’s a fact.

From the Commonwealth of Virginia, in 1900….there were probably a total of five pages of regulations. You had a few rules over treatment of cattle or horses. If you sold anything, it was typically done by bushel. These were all regulations that you can grasp and understand.

This week…..out in Paris, Virginia….we had a funny episode. A gal, Ms Martha Boneta, who owns Libery Farms….got threaten with $5k in fines.

Now, you’d ask what the heck? Well….she was selling produce and crafts and throwing unlicensed events….which included a birthday party for her best friend’s child. Licensed events? For farmers? Well….this apparently has to do with parties, wine teastings, food tastings, craft workshops, and pumpkin carving. Yeah, pumpkin carving.

Now, Martha had done up a license in 2011….but this only allowed her to run a regular retail agricultural shop. The boys down at the local county office decided that they had to push the regulations a bit, and parties weren’t in this new license. A guy would look at this and start shaking his head. You’d need a license for this, and this, and that….and pretty soon….everyone is monitoring you licensed up for, and if you slipped over the line…..you’d be in trouble if some neighbor felt like reporting you to the county license board.

In 1780….a guy like George Washington…..didn’t have any stupid licenses. George would have been the first to admit that he made his own personal brand of cider and distilled a fair amount of whiskey. George also engaged in various agricultural projects that likely would likely today to fall within the 300-odd pages that county and state agricultural folks have to regulate farmers. George would have been a bit upset and I doubt if the local zoning board would be happy with George’s attitude.

What happens out in Paris, Virginia now? Well….the farmers say that they’d like to personally met up with the zoning board and talk over what they see as a problem. The issue now would be these media guys who show up and start asking the zoning board stupid questions. Zoning boards used to be this dead zone where you could pay up some guy to really make pain and discomfort for your neighbors or competition. I’m guessing the zoning boards guys are thinking long and hard over having a open meeting or closed meeting. One good tactic is to find a place where there’s only twenty chairs (if you zoner-guys were thinking on this…..it only works one time usually).

Guys like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson….would have laughed over this. Some guy telling you that you might have to do a permit for pumpkin carving? Or maybe you were going to invite twelve guys to bring over their best horses and have a personal judgement over who had the best looking horse…..but then discover that you need a permit for such a meeting of horses? How about a permit for a farmer to demonstrate a fancy apple press that he bought from Sweden, and sixty people show up…..another permit? There’s something sad going on in Virginia…..regulation beyond common sense.

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