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Idaho, the state with “FAMOUS POTATOES” emblazoned on its license plate, has a law on the books which says that planting a regular potato (such as you would buy in the grocery state) can land you in jail.

Chapter 5, title 22, Idaho Code requires that only “certified” potatoes or potatoes that are “no more than one (1) generation from their own certified parent seed potatoes” may be planted in Idaho.

What happens if you violate this law? You will be “guilty of a misdemeanor” and you will be fined and/or “imprisoned in the county jail for not more than six (6) months.”

A University of Idaho Extension publication authored by Ariel Agenbroad and Susan Bell explains the law and it’s impact on home gardeners.

In Idaho, all potato tubers sold for planting on farms and in gardens must be inspected and certified to be relatively free of disease. Any tubers imported into Idaho for the purpose of planting must also be certified. Tubers sold for human food do not carry the required certifications and should never be used for home garden plantings.

Home gardeners should always look for proof of certification when buying potato seed, either locally at retail outlets and garden centers, or through mail order and online sources. If the seed stock from a particular source is not available for shipment into Idaho, then it is likely that the seed has not been certified.

Idaho may have famous potatoes, but if you plant the wrong ones, you may find yourself an infamous potato prisoner. Good luck getting respect behind bars with that on your rap sheet.

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