USDA Clarifies Rules for Buying and Receiving Seeds and Plants from other Countries

Last year, there was quite the uproar as people reported shipments of unsolicited seeds arriving from other countries. This was the subject of an initial newsletter article in July 2020 and a follow up article earlier this year in March. Unfortunately, we are continuing to get reports of unsolicited seeds arriving from foreign sources through the mail to Kentuckians.  This is a serious biosecurity threat as seeds and plants arriving from outside the U.S. can carry harmful insects or disease, or the plants themselves may be invasive and harm the environment.

Figure 1. Unsolicited seed packages were often cryptic with respect to origin and type of seed.

What to Do

If you receive unsolicited foreign seeds in the mail, it is important that these unwanted seeds be disposed of properly. Simply tossing the seed packets in the trash is not recommended.  

  • Do not open the seed packets.
  • Do not plant any of the seeds.
  • If the packets are already open, place all materials (seeds and packaging) into a sealable plastic bag.

The KY State Entomologist has a webpage outlining the steps you need to follow, as well as a FAQ page to help answer questions. 

The seeds must be disposed of properly through USDA APHIS and this agency is asking that the seeds (including the package they were mailed in and any other papers that have come with the mailing) and a copy of the completed form on the KY State Entomologist webpage be mailed to this address:  

USDA, APHIS, PPQ
Attn: Seeds
P.O. Box 475
Hebron, KY 41048


By Ric Bessin, Entomology Extension Specialist, and Joe Collins, Deputy State Entomologist

Posted in Misc. Topics