USDA to clamp down further on seed importation: what you can do

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If you’ve ever ordered from Chiltern’s, tried new basil or lettuce varieties from Europe, or have pretty hybrid plants from England in your garden (Verbascum ‘Jackie’, Heuchera ‘Bressingham Hybrids’, etc.)——– you can forget about anything new. The USDA is slamming shut the borders on new plants.

Maybe you’re already aware of this. It is vital to us as gardeners and growers to try to fix this before it gets any more out of hand. This may be your last chance to keep that possible. This is a new addition to the draconian import regulations we have been warning about for the past few years. (Commercial seeds shipments are already being destroyed.)

And if you don’t think that applies to you as a home gardener, you need to know that as the regs also apply to private individuals, this means you could see a whopping $1000 fine for sending a gift of seeds to your aunt or best friend without getting an inspection and phytosanitary certificate. At up to $250,000 dollars per ‘infraction’, the independent nursery industry will dry up in a heartbeat.

The stated reason for these changes is to stop the spread of invasive weeds, but the invasives we deal with in this country on a large scale are those introduced on by state and federal agencies planting roadside erosion cover and wildlife forage (think kudzu and broom), not peonies introduced from Mongolia by Daniel Hinkley. The fact is that much of these regulations were written by folks from the largest 3 or 4 seed companies in the world who now happen to advise APHIS, the plant inspection arm of the USDA.

See also JL Hudson’s page on this new rule here.

To quote from the Hudson site, “The restrictions that will be imposed are so serious, and so expensive to comply with, that it will place the biological diversity of the planet into corporate hands.”

The following is excerpted from a Shade Gardening list article which explains what is happening and how you can (somewhat) help guide the process before it is too late (April 11):

“You may or may not be aware that USDA-APHIS is proposing major changes in the regulations for the importation of nursery stock, i.e. what they are now calling “Plants for Planting”, which means ALL plant parts capable of growing – rooted and non-rooted cuttings and plants, seeds, corms, bulbs and tubers.

All those who belong to plant or garden related societies should be interested and concerned about the proposed changes to existing import regulations. If you belong to a society or garden club, please contact your president or board of directors and make them aware of this issue so that they can inform the other members via your newsletter or other publications.

From our point of view, as keen gardeners, the ‘clean list’ approach would be a disaster since it would mean that all taxa not already imported in large quantities would be severely restricted – even those that have been safely grown in this country in small quantities for many years.
From the point of view of small nurseries, a ‘clean list’ would be a disaster because it would mean that newly developed cultivars that are the latest and greatest across the pond could not be sold here.

Anyone who operates a small or mid-size nursery should be vitally interested – the regulations they ultimately pass could mean your livelihood.
If you know any nursery folk who are not online, please let them know about this issue; help them add their comments. There is no big list of nurseries; no way to contact all of them, so if you can help in this regard, please do it.”

Read the whole article: ‘Until April’

Here is the docket list page.

“The docket is about the 18th item down the page.

You will see this:

Nursery Stock Regulations
Docket No. 03-069-1
Advance notice of proposed rulemaking and request for comments
7 CFR Part 319
Published December 10, 2004
69 FR 71736-71744

Text | PDF | EDOCKET
These are the links on the APHIS site to the actual document. The first is to a text file on the web. The second downloads an Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) file to your computer. The third links to the page with comments that have been made, which contains links that you can use to submit your own comment. “

About the Author

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4b/5aLocation: rural; just south of British Columbia/Idaho borderGeographic type: foot of Black & Clifty Mountains (foothills of Rockies–the Wet Columbia Mountains in BC climate- speak)Soil type:acid sand (glacial lake bed)/coniferous forestExperience level: intermediate/professionalParticular interests: fragrant & edible plants, hardy bulbs, cottage gardening, alpines, peonies, penstemons & other blue flowers, primulas, antique & species roses & iris; nocturnal flowers Also: owner of Paradise Gardens Rare Plant Nursery

Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.

~Adrian Higgins in The Washington Post, November 6, 2013

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