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Agricultural Smuggling

On Friday, July 24, WSDA received two separate reports of residents receiving seeds from China that they did not order. The package labeling indicated that jewelry was inside, but instead the residents found seeds. 

We have also received reports of people who purchased seeds from an online retailer thinking the seeds were from the United States, only to learn when the package arrived in the mail (also usually listing something other than seeds on the mailing labels) that the seeds were from another country.

Avoiding plant import regulations and bypassing customs (for example, by mislabeling a package and identifying its contents as something else) to get plant material into the United States is known as agricultural smuggling and is not only illegal, but poses a serious threat to our farms, gardens, animals, and environment. 

  • They could be invasive. Some plants are not allowed to enter the country because they are known to be invasive, and could outcompete native plants.  
  • They could harbor pests and diseases. Plants and seeds can have insect or disease pests that could devastate native plants that have no defense against them. This could lead to the loss of plants or require increased pesticide use to manage. 
  • They could harm livestock. Some plants are toxic to livestock and other animals – even humans. If they are planted, they could be harmful to livestock and other animals. 

For these reasons, bringing plant material into the United States is closely regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

What Washington residents should do: more info here.