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Postal Regs for Shipping Live Plants  RSS feed

 
Deb Stephens
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Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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I am getting ready to ship several packets of live plants to some of you here on Permies (through the seed swap posts) and I wanted to make sure I did it right and didn't violate any USDA or USPS rules in the process. So I went to the USPS website and looked up the regulations. I thought since so many of us are actively swapping right now, this might be useful. Here is what I found... (http://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c5_001.htm)


56 Plants
561 General

The mailing of plants and plant products is subject to certain prohibitions and restrictions imposed by federal agricultural and conservation statutes. When these prohibitions and restrictions render the shipment of any plant or plant product as unlawful, then those plants are nonmailable. For more information, see DMM 601.9; Publication 14, Prohibitions and Restrictions on Mailing Animals, Plants, and Related Matter; and Publication 4, Importing Animal and Plant Products Through Overseas Military Post Offices.

562 Quarantines

The USDA imposes quarantines on specific plants to prevent the introduction of agricultural diseases or pests into the United States and to prevent their spread from one part of the United States to another.
562.1 Types of Quarantines

There are domestic quarantines that apply to the continental United States; other quarantines that apply to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands; and others that apply to other territories and possessions. The quarantines prevent the spread of specific diseases and pests. Any plant or plant matter that is under quarantine is nonmailable.
562.2 Specific Information

Plant quarantines cover a great variety of plant diseases and pests, and all areas of the country. For more specific information, consult Publication 14, Prohibitions and Restrictions on Mailing Animals, Plants, and Related Matter.
562.3 Inspection

Plants under quarantine by the USDA may be moved from the quarantine areas only after being inspected and after a permit or certificate is issued. Refer to ASM 274.9 regarding USDA inspection of mail.


563 Packaging and Marking
563.1 General

Wettable packing materials and roots or butts of plants must be wrapped or boxed in a waterproof material. The material must be heavy enough to retain the moisture content needed for the roots of the plants without weakening the strength of the box, and must be able to withstand Postal Service handling without leakage or loss of the packing material or contents. Waterproof material means one of the following:

Tar–centered paper.
Kraft paper waxed on one side.
Kraft paper with a waxed or tarred paper liner.
Plastic wrap.

563.2 Securing Tops of Bundles

The tops of all bundles must be wrapped with a covering of paper, straw, or similar material to protect the plant from injury or drying out. If the plant has thorns or pointed projections, the wrapper must be puncture proof.

564 Further Information

For further information about specific plants or diseases, or about requirements for international shipments, consult the local county agriculture agent or the following federal agency:

ANIMAL AND PLANT HEALTH INSPECTION SERVICE
US DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
4700 RIVER RD
RIVERDALE MD 20737–1228

 
Erica Wisner
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Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
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I'd be interested in knowing where to find a database listing current quarantines or prohibitions.

The closest I've come is this list of federally-listed noxious weeds: http://plants.usda.gov/java/noxious

None of those appear to be things I'd consider shipping.

On the USDA website there's a lot of language about prohibiting shipment of "plant pests," but when I tried to find a listing of plant pests on their site, all I could find were a few individual pronouncements and updates about specific pests and plants that may or may not carry them. None of the contact subdivisions seemed like the right person to ask, either.

Shouldn't there be a list somewhere, where the public - or at least some relatively-informed subset of the public like master gardeners and the like - could access a current listing to find out whether certain plants should not be shipped from certain areas to others?

In the absence of such a list, I guess we
- don't ship noxious plants,
- don't ship plants with any indications of disease, and
- do our best to research our own county for quarantine info, so we don't inadvertently ship known pests or diseases that might be undetected
- and maybe check the destination county/state for posted import restrictions
before shipping plant material.

The USDA and Postal websites' information seems targeted for large nurseries and breeders, for example it lists a program for propagating certified clean plants (inspected, and if it's anything like the certified weed-free hay program they are probably pesticide-treated, or at a minimum raised in relatively sterile conditions).
But sterile-medium plants seem likely to have the least disease resistance.
Doesn't seem to be set up for the home grower or seed-swapper - maybe they figure small volumes will do less damage?
or just looking to regulate the folks who can & will pay for inspections?

-Erica
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Thanks for posting that info.

Here is some more info regarding the noxious weeds (Federal) which probably duplicates what Erica just posted:
http://plants.usda.gov/java/noxious?rptType=Federal

However, each state (and probably some counties) has their own lists which may/may not agree with the federal list.
(From the link above, you can navigate to each individual state's list of no-no plants.)

Here are 2 links that pretty well cover Washington state's obnoxious weeds, and their regs about them:
http://plants.usda.gov/java/noxious?rptType=State&statefips=53
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=16-750

As far as I know, each state is only concerned with importing these evil bastards plants/seeds. They probably wish you would export them if you have them. LOL


I do know that WA has some pretty tight restrictions on importing economic agricultural plants, as they fear that entire industries can be wiped out. I found a grape vine exporter in NY that sold vines for about 10% of what anybody locally does, but when I got to the fine print, it said "CANNOT SHIP TO WA, OR, CA, or ID". Alas, I thought I was set for life, but a worried wine industry slammed the door on any competition.
 
John Polk
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O.K., I just went back to my first link and grabbed the link to individual states searches.
It also includes U.S. Territories, as well as Canada, and a few others.
click away to your heart's content: http://plants.usda.gov/checklist.html
 
Deb Stephens
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Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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Since we are throwing around USDA links, here is another good one that lists noxious and prohibited plant resource links by state (where you can find more specific lists and regulations) PLUS the federal list of noxious and prohibited plants underneath on the same page. https://plants.usda.gov/java/noxComposite?stateRpt=yes There are many other state specific websites that offer even more useful information -- it may help to start with the regulations in your own state and work your way out.
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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It is truly amazing the amount of resources our governments have spent on catagorizing 'weeds'.
Each of those 'weeds' has entire studies, chapters, web pages, etc.

Your tax dollars, hard at work for you !

Now, if they would spend 10% of what they have already spent, looking for the benefits of these 'weeds', we might be advancing the science.

 
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