Here’s what to do if you receive an unsolicited seed package from another country:
• Do NOT open the seed packet and avoid opening outer packaging or mailing materials, if possible.
• Place the seed packet and mailing materials into a sealable plastic bag. This is important to determine the origin of the seeds.
• Do not plant the seeds or discard them in the trash that will be landfilled.
• Report the seed package to the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, Division of Plant Industry at 1-518-457-2087 or Plants@agriculture.ny.gov
• After reporting the seed package, an inspector from the FDACS Division of Plant Industry will contact seed recipients to schedule a safe, contactless collection of the seeds, packaging, and mailing materials.
When reporting the seed package to FDACS and USDA/APHIS, be prepared to provide one’s name, physical address, phone number, and email address for contact and seed collection purposes.
USDA is aware that people across the country have received suspicious, unsolicited packages of seed that appear to be coming from China. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, other federal agencies, and State departments of agriculture to investigate the situation.
If you’ve received an unsolicited package of seeds immediately contact Christopher Logue, Director, Division of Plant Industry, New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, 10 B Airline Drive, Albany, NY 12235-0001, Phone: (518) 457-2087, https://www.agriculture.ny.gov/PI/PIHome.html, or APHIS State plant health Director, Eddie Chen, USDA, APHIS, PPQ, 500 New Karner Road, 2nd Floor, Albany, NY 12205, Phone: (518) 218-7510, https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/ppq-program-overview/sphd/new+york. Once your complaint is reviewed the department will contact you with further instructions. Please hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from the state department of agriculture.
It's unclear who exactly is sending these packages, why they're being distributed, and whether the seeds are harmful. The department asked that anyone who has received this type of package in the mail contact the Office of Plant Industry Services.
Seeds that are imported into the US must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate that ensures the product is free of pests and diseases.
Currently, these seeds are believed to be a “brushing scam” where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales. USDA is currently collecting seed packages from recipients and will test their contents and determine if they contain anything that could be of concern to U.S. agriculture or the environment.
USDA is committed to preventing the unlawful entry of prohibited seeds and protecting U.S. agriculture from invasive pests and noxious weeds.
This information was brought to you by the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.