July 26, 2020 — Update 3:30 pm and 4:30 pm
July 27, 2020 Update 9:55 pm to include additional information for reporting to NJ Department of Agriculture:
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is aware that people across the country have received unsolicited packages of seed from China in recent days. APHIS is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection and State departments of agriculture to prevent the unlawful entry of prohibited seeds and protect U.S. agriculture from invasive pests and noxious weeds.
Anyone in New Jersey who receives an unsolicited package of seeds from China should immediately contact the New Jersey Department of Agriculture at 609-292-3976 or contactAg@ag.nj.gov. Also, you can contact the APHIS State plant health director. Please hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from your State department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions. Do not plant seeds from unknown origins.
Reports from several state’s department of agriculture reporting unsolicited seeds being mailed to random residence around the country. Moments after posting the story today, MidJersey.News received a post via Facebook of a pack of seeds sent to Hopewell Township-Washington Crossing, NJ area. Be on the lookout, Do Not Plant and report to USDA APHIS link posted below.
So far reports of seeds being sent to NJ, NY, Virginia, Utah, Louisiana, Washington State and the United Kingdom.
MidJersey.News did communicate with the NJ Department of Agriculture on Sunday about the seed issue and see links below on how to report to the USDA:
If individuals are aware of the potential smuggling of prohibited exotic fruits, vegetables, or meat products into or through the USA, they can help APHIS by contacting the confidential Antismuggling Hotline number at 800-877-3835 or by sending an Email to SITC.Mail@aphis.usda.gov. USDA will make every attempt to protect the confidentiality of any information sources during an investigation within the extent of the law.
A package sent to Hopewell Township-Washington Crossing, NJ, provided by post on MidJersey.News Facebook:
Press release from Virginia:
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has been notified that several Virginia residents have received unsolicited packages containing seeds that appear to have originated from China. The types of seeds in the packages are unknown at this time and may be invasive plant species. The packages were sent by mail and may have Chinese writing on them.
Please do not plant these seeds. VDACS encourages anyone who has received unsolicited seeds in the mail that appears to have Chinese origin to contact the Office of Plant Industry Services (OPIS) at 804.786.3515 or through the ReportAPest@vdacs.virginia.gov email.
Invasive species wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects and severely damage crops. Taking steps to prevent their introduction is the most effective method of reducing both the risk of invasive species infestations and the cost to control and mitigate those infestations.