The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) has received multiple reports of “unsolicited” China origin seeds being delivered to residents across the state through the United States Postal Service (USPS). The packing is often mislabeled as jewelry. This practice is known as agricultural smuggling.
“We urge all residents to be on the lookout for similar packages,” ADAI commissioner Rick Pate said in a press release. “These seeds could be invasive or be harmful to livestock.”
Currently, ADAI is asking recipients of unsolicited seed to follow the instructions below:
1. Do not plant the seeds. If they are in a sealed package, do not open the sealed package. Also, do not dispose of the seeds.
2. Report suspicious seed deliveries to USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and maintain the seeds and packaging until USDA provides further instructions. This may be used for evidence.
3. Call 1-800-877-3835 or email SITC.Mail@aphis.usda.gov. For more details, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/import-information/sa_sitc/ct_antismuggling.
USDA will be releasing official guidance (including additional instructions for reporting unsolicited seeds), which will be shared as soon as possible.
Tallapoosa County Extension Office coordinator Shane Harris said he had not heard of any of these packages received in Tallapoosa County yet but that residents need to be aware of its potential.
So far, residents from several other states including Arizona, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington State have reported receiving suspicious packages of seeds.