UPDATE: WV Agriculture officials urge public to not plant foreign seed packets

West Virginia

Several Virginia residents have informed the department that they have received packages in the mail containing seeds that appear to have come from China. In an email, the department states that the type of seeds in the packages are unknown and “may be invasive plant species.” (photos provided by the VDACS)

UPDATE (7/29/20 4:09 p.m.)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) has released an updated statement regarding unsolicited foreign seeds being distributed across the state.

“The WVDA is working in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture-Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) to properly track, as well as intake unsolicited seeds from China. As we continue to gather more information, we are asking those who have received seeds to contact the Department or the USDA. We do not believe there is an immediate threat to the public at this time,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt.

WVDA officials said that any person who has received unsolicited seeds should take the following steps:

  1. Do not open or plant the seeds.
  2. Mail the seeds and all packing material to: USDA-APHIS 275 Gus R. Douglass Lane, Charleston, WV 25312. In addition, please provide your contact information including address, phone and email.
  3. If you have ordered seeds previously this year through an e-commerce vendor, please indicate what you may have ordered, the name of the business and the businesses location.

Crescent Gallagher, the WVDA communications director, said dozens of seeds have been received by West Virginians in the last couple of days alone. The seeds, he said, could pose a big risk to the habitat and the general wellbeing of citizens.

“Just like anything, when you go through U.S. Customs or Border Patrol, you are not allowed to bring plants that are not approved by the United States into the country,” Gallagher said. “At this time we do not know what the seeds are, they could invasive, they could be carrying a disease.”

Gallagher said these unsolicited packages have been seen in 31 other states and the federal government is coordinating with those states as well. He said no specific community in West Virginia seems to be more targeted, at this time, than any other.

The Communications Director said that right now they are just collecting information to the best of their ability and WVDA will inform the public as more information becomes available.

Those looking for more information can contact the WVDA at 304-558-2212 or USDA-APHIS at 304-343-8585.

ORIGINAL (7/27/20 11:49 a.m.)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) is urging state residents not to plant unsolicited seeds they may have received in the mail.

The WVDA released the following statement regarding unsolicited seeds:

“Like other states, we have been made aware of reports from people in West Virginia that have received seeds in the mail that they did not order. Unsolicited seeds could be invasive, introduce diseases to local plants or be harmful to livestock. We are working with the USDA to determine the proper recourse for such seeds,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt.

“If you have received seeds from another country, do not plant them if they are in a sealed package and do not open the sealed package. Keep the seeds and packaging and contact the WVDA,” Leonhardt said.

For more information or to report unsolicited seeds, you can call 304-558-2226.

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