Federal, state officials warn about unexpected seed packet shipments
UPDATE (9:30 a.m. September, 2, 2020)
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has updated their guidance on what to do if you receive an unsolicited package of seeds in the mail.
There are now two options available for handling unsolicited packages or plant material received in the mail:
- Report the seeds or plants and submit them for testing or
- Dispose of the seeds or plants using a specific set of methods as outlined in this link.
Please follow this link to FDACS official guidance.
If you are interested in seeing how the guidance has changed in last two months, see below. Please remember that what you read below this line is not current guidance:
UPDATE (5:10 p.m. July 28): This blog post was updated to reflect new information on the number of Florida reports of seed packages.
Recently, residents in multiple states have received unexpected packages of seeds in the mail. Given the unknown origin and nature of the package contents, officials are cautioning anyone who receives such a package to NOT open it or use/plant any seeds it might contain, and instead to report the delivery to state and federal authorities.
According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS):
“The seed packets, which may arrive unexpectedly in packages bearing Chinese characters, may bear the name China Post, and may be labeled as jewelry, have been reported in multiple states including Virginia, Kansas, Washington, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, and others.”
As of July 28, FDACS has recorded at least 631 reports from Florida residents reporting having received suspicious seed packages, up from an initial report of 160 by July 27. The package contents remain unknown, pending testing by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
At this time, authorities from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are working with state agriculture departments to provide guidance. FDACS leaders advise the following to any Florida resident or visitor receiving unsolicited seed packages from other countries:
- Do not open the seed packet and avoid opening outer packaging or mailing materials, if possible.
- Do not plant the seeds or discard them in trash that will be landfilled.
- Limit contact with the seed package until further guidance on handling, disposal, or collection is available from the USDA.
- Report the seed package to the FDACS Division of Plant Industry at 888-397-1517 or DPIhelpline@FDACS.gov.
- Report the seed package to the USDA APHIS Anti-Smuggling Hotline at 800-877-3835 or SITC.Mail@aphis.usda.gov.
When reporting the seed package to FDACS and USDA/APHIS, please be prepared to provide for contact purposes your name, physical address, phone number, and email address.
Read the full FDACS press release.