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LDAF offers update on mystery seed shipments

fresno seeds

These seeds from a Chinese sender arrived at a resident in Fresno County, California. Note the dark color compared to some of the other shipments — photo courtesy Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office

Nearly two months after the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry first reported that Louisiana residents received unsolicited packages of seeds originating from China, there is an update from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“According to our contacts at the USDA, so far, there have been very few weeds or species containing diseases which is good news. Anytime a foreign specimen is introduced, there is always a chance it may pose a risk to the agricultural industry or the environment and that is why it is so important we identify what is in the packages,” said Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain.

At this time, there have been approximately 400 specimens received in Louisiana and turned over to the USDA. Approximately 16,000 specimens have been received nationwide and about 5,000 species of seeds that have been identified.

Among those are flowers, herbs and vegetables, including mustard, cabbage, morning glory, rose, hibiscus, mint, rosemary and lavender.

The USDA reports 44 countries of origin have been identified and e-commerce companies such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy continue to work with the USDA on restrictions in selling foreign seeds or plants.

If you live in Louisiana and receive unsolicited seeds, visit the LDAF website at
https://www.ldaf.state.la.us/news/unsolicited-seeds-from-china/ and fill out an online collection form or call 225-925-4733. LDAF inspectors will collect the seeds and the USDA will test them for positive identification.