By Johnathan Baldauf

Hello and welcome to our tiny corner of the Internet!

Our goal with this blog is to inform, entertain, and further the discussion about a multitude of aspects about the law. Some posts will directly relate to our practice (either the business of the firm or the law itself), some posts will be rants, and some posts will contain interesting anecdotes that will illustrate how the law operates. Nothing written on this page is legal advice (we’ll share why we include those disclaimers in a later post). If you need legal advice, call us and schedule a free 30-minute consultation with us. We’re happy to talk.

But all of that raises an interesting question: if these posts aren’t legal advice, then what is their purpose? The answer is relatively simple. We find the law fascinating and want to share some of the more fascinating parts. As practitioners, we often run into unique situations or get into discussions with other practitioners about other unique situations or hypotheticals. Rather than keeping these stories to ourselves or continuing to bore our friends and families with these details, we’ll put them online and let people like you, people who, for whatever reason, are exploring the blog of a small law practice, share in our tales. So, without further ado, let’s talk about the law.

Since we’re in Idaho, there is only one thing we can talk about in our first post: potatoes (Solanum tuberosum). Maybe it’s playing into the stereotype, but I’m okay with that. Specifically, we’re going to talk about how planting the wrong potato can land you in jail. No, I’m not kidding.

According to Idaho Code § 22-503(2), anyone who wants to plant a potato in Idaho must only plant certified potatoes or, if they grew the potatoes, potatoes that are only one generation away from a certified parent seed potato. Those who violate this rule are guilty of a misdemeanor (I.C. § 22-504.) and could theoretically be punished by six months in jail. So, if Grandma buys a potato from Albertson’s produce department and plants it in her garden, she could (again, theoretically) be charged under this code.

The good news is that Idaho Code § 22-504(3) allows the Director of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture to ignore “minor violations” of this chapter when they “believe[] that the public interest will be best served by suitable warnings of other administrative action.” So, Grandma is probably not going to do time for planting that potato in her garden.

If you’re not a farmer, you may be confused as why this law exists. The solution is rather straightforward. Potatoes are a valuable cash crop, but they are also quite vulnerable to disease. Remember Ireland’s Great Famine? That was caused by the potato blight. The potato blight still exists and other pests like the pale potato cyst nematode only make matters worse. So, while this law seems to be a bit extreme, it’s really designed to keep Idaho potato fields free of disease so that Idaho’s famous potatoes can remain so that way.

For the full statute regarding seed potatoes, click here.

I’ll try to limit the amount of Latin I include in future posts, but be happy that this blog’s first use of Latin is not a legal term and rather describes a relatively simple, yet delicious concept that’s tasty whether it’s fried, baked, or mashed.