Why I Oppose the Montana HOBBYIST APIARY Bill
By Tim Ravndal
I was not surprised today when I attended the Senate Agriculture hearing on HB443. Representative Fitzgerald introduced the bill and quickly turned testimony over to the “Experts”.
Yep you guessed it! Government lobbying government for more government. The lead proponent of the bill is the Montana Department of Agriculture.(DOA)
It was stated that the bill did not come from DOA, but rather from the commercial apiaries. A high end commercial apiary owner provided first hand experience in the commercial side of the industry. To finish out the field of proponents, a 30 year government livestock inspector now semi-retired shared his experience inspecting and policing apiary sites.
My friend Alan Wright who is just considering getting into a hobby apiary venture and I were the only ones in opposition to the bill.
In short, we based opposition on the fact that government bureaucracy is not going to prevent the introduction of infection or disease in the apiary industry.
Why not you ask? By admission, government officials charged with the task, claim they have no clear way to head off transporting diseased or infected equipment. The commercial apiary representative admitted there is a lack of the ability for full regulatory monitoring in commercial transportation.
Because it is not possible to do a brand inspection on bees, there is also a lack of the ability to check each individual bee transported. No way for DOA to provide an individual health certificate for every bee that comes to Montana.
In essence, the commerce of bees and equipment is commercially regulated by the government to the level feasible. Does that imply that the private hobby apiary owners are guilty of anything?
If the perceived problem is with hobby apiary needing regulation, where does the problem start? Is it in the back yard or is it existing problem founded in the commercialization of the bee industry?
We also must ask how paying a registration fee and an application fee is going to change anything. Furthermore, where will that tax stop?
Additional funding generated by a tax paid by an unknown number of hobby apiary owners will support a new full time employee and grow department bureaucracy.
In closing, we are not swayed by the testimony by proponents. Their claim that there is no direct violation of private property rights with this legislation is blatantly false. If all citizens are going to be classified as commercial regulated entities, then I will say our Constitution and the “Bill of Rights” need to be reviewed by those promoting HB443.
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