Florida Department of Agriculture Asking Floridians to Report Suspicious Seed Packages.
Written by Kristen Schmutz
Belden Communications News
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is asking Floridians to report unsolicited packages of seeds that are received through the mail.
According to a release, the seed packets which may arrive unexpectedly in packages showing Chinese characters -- may bear the name China Post -- and may be labeled as jewelry, as it has been reported in multiple states including Virginia, Kansas, Washington, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, and others.
160 reports from Florida residents were reported Monday, and the content of the seed packages are unknown at this time.
The introduction of plant seeds into the United States is tightly regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Seeds of unknown origin may constitute agricultural smuggling, may be invasive, may introduce pathogens, toxins, or plant and animal diseases may pose a risk of foodborne illness and may pose a threat to plant, animal, and human health.
“Plant seeds from unknown sources may introduce dangerous pathogens, diseases, or invasive species into Florida, putting agriculture and our state’s plant, animal, and human health at risk,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. “Anyone receiving these suspicious seed packets should not open them, should not plant them, should limit contact with them, and should report them immediately to both our department and USDA officials.”
If you receive these unsolicited seed packages from other countries, you should follow these instructions from the FDACS:
Do not open the seed packet and avoid opening the outer packaging if possible.
Do not plant the seeds or discard them in the trash that will be landfilled.
Limit contact with the seed package until further guidance on handling, disposing, or collecting the package is available from the USDA.
Report the seed package to the FDACS Division of Plant Industry at 1-888-397-1517 or DPIhelpline@FDACS.GOV, and the USDA APHIS anti-smuggling Hotline at 1-800-877-3835 or SITC.Mail@APHIS.USDA.GOV
Those reporting the seed packages to FDACS and USDA/APHIS should be prepared to provide one’s Name, Address, Phone number, and Email for contact purposes.
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