North Dakota and Minnesota are the latest states to report residents receiving unsolicited packages of seeds that appear to have come from China.
Officials in other states, including Louisiana, Utah, Virginia and Washington, have reported similar mailings. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says it is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection and State departments of agriculture to prevent the unlawful entry of prohibited seeds and protect U.S. agriculture from invasive pests and noxious weeds.
Anyone receiving seeds they did not order should contact their state departments of agriculture.
“We’re uncertain what these seeds may be and why people are receiving these unsolicited packages,” said Denise Thiede, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Seed Unit Supervisor. “Until we know more, we encourage people to contact us because of the risk they may pose to Minnesota agriculture and our natural landscapes.”
The North Dakota Department of Agriculture and the North Dakota State Seed Department have received several reports of state residents receiving unsolicited packages containing seeds from China.
“We’re not sure why these seeds are being sent or what the motives are behind this,” North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. “Unsolicited seeds may be invasive and introduce diseases harmful to plants or livestock.”
“Individuals who receive unsolicited seeds should be concerned,” said Jason Goltz, regulatory manager of the North Dakota State Seed Department. “The introduction of a noxious weed or new disease can have devastating effects on agriculture and our food supply.”
The Minnesota and North Dakota departments of agriculture urge people to keep the seeds and packaging. Do not plant the seeds. Contact your state and await further instructions.
Reports in Minnesota can be made to the Arrest the Pest line at 1-888-545-6684 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Provide your name, contact information, and the date the package was received.
Reports in North Dakota can be made to the Department of Agriculture. Call 701-328-2391 or email your name, phone number and number of packages and dates received to email@example.com to report the incident.
State officials will work with the USDA to identify and destroy the seeds.