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Legal Help needed - importing seeds to US

 
Wi Tim
Posts: 63
Location: North Idaho, zone 5a
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Hi fellow permies,

The idea is to start a permaculture nursery that specializes in Soviet varieties, selling seedlings and possibly seeds. I see there is enough interest, and since I grew up in the former Soviet Union and have friends and relatives in quite a few of the Newly Independent States (including Central Asia), it could be a great fit.
However, before I even try to explore the export regulations in those States, I need to figure out how to legally import the seeds to US.

My question is, what do I need to do in order to import to the USA seeds of perennials, trees and shrubs from abroad? I am talking about a dozen of varieties and maybe a couple of hundreds seeds each to start, with plans for expanding in the future.
More specifically,
1) Do I have to submit an "Application to Import Plants or Plant Products" to USDA?
2) Should I try to qualify under Small Lots of Seed Program?
3) Form 587 (assuming I need it) calls for a specific "Port of Entry", does it mean I will not be able to receive the seeds by mail?

Thank you!
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I was looking into this a few years back.
Here are a couple links that I found helpful:

http://theseedsite.co.uk/aphisfaq.html
https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/importexport
https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/resources/permits

 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
Posts: 2004
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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And... After you get the seeds into the usa, the state of Idaho is one of the more difficult states regarding importing certain species into the state. Check locally...

Or do what most people do most of the time... Don't tell anyone where the seeds came from. Don't order them from eBay. Don't make on-line posts about what you are doing, and smuggle the propagules. The government is way past bankrupt, and unlikely to be able to afford to enforce much of anything.
 
Wi Tim
Posts: 63
Location: North Idaho, zone 5a
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John, I got excited after your reading your post, but Joseph returned me back to earth
No, I did not come to this country to do something illegal. I don't want to own a 'black market" nursery.

John, you said you looked into it, but did you actually import any seeds?
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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No, I never actually imported any seeds.
But, it seems as if it is not that difficult if done on a small scale.

I believe that it would be much simpler with common types than with exotics.
A simple cultivar of a Siberian tomato would probably raise few eyebrows.
An exotic plant that they cannot even identify on USDA databases might get rejected simply so they can avoid the work involved in determining what it even is.  IF you can keep their job simple you have a higher chance of acceptance than if you are forcing them to spend hours doing research.

As 'public servants', they are responsible for their actions.  The easier you make it for them, the more likely they will be to rubber stamp it "OK".  Cause them grief, or excess work loads, and out comes the "DENIED" rubber stamp.  Working with them is much easier than working against them.



 
Anne Miller
pollinator
Posts: 504
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Maybe you could find a wholesale nursery in the Soviet Union or other countries that has the seeds you want and that already imports to the USA.  This also might be the cheapest way unless your friends are saving seeds.
 
Wi Tim
Posts: 63
Location: North Idaho, zone 5a
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Thank you, John and Anne for your advice!
 
2017 Appropriate Technology Course at Wheaton Labs http://richsoil.com/pdc
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