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COL Politicians shouldn't meddle in the weeding of fields

Micro-managing agriculture is risky business, but that's exactly what some people in California are trying to do via a bill in the legislature there to ban hand-weeding of fields. Farm worker advocates say the ban is needed to protect workers' health.

Hand-weeding of lettuce, strawberry and other specialty crop fields puts a terrific strain on backs and causes many injuries, says Michael Blank, an attorney representing farm workers.

Farmers fear that if the bill becomes law they won't have any way to rescue their crops under dire field conditions.

Few will argue that hand-weeding fields is cost-effective or efficient. But under wet conditions it may be the only option open to producers.

Is it in the government's best interest to micro-manage common farming practices?

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Clearly it is not. California's agriculture industry -- the largest generator of economic activity in the state -- fears that continued governmental interference will eventually ruin them. The overreaching legislation banning hand-pulling of weeds is Exhibit A.

California lawmakers must have too much time on their hands. They shouldn't meddle in this area.

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