As of Thursday, July 30th, the USDA reported that residents of 28 U.S. states have received unsolicited seed packages in the mail. Many shipments have been disguised as jewelry packages.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture confirms that they have received 225 calls from Iowa residents receiving similar packages. Although the exact origin is not known at this time, officials are suspecting that they are coming from China and potentially other foreign nations.
If you receive suspicious seed packages in the mail, the Iowa Department of Agriculture urges Iowa residents to call 515-281-5321 immediately. Do not plant or throw away the seeds. The department will provide a pre-stamped envelope to mail the specimens to a research laboratory.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that after introductory research, the samples look to be horticulture and weed seeds. It is unknown at this time if they are an invasive species.
If you are purchasing seeds online, the Department of Agriculture reminds Iowans to check the origin of the products. Any seed legally moving across state lines must meet the border and customs requirements, in addition to receiving a Phytosanitary Certificate (PC) which provides evidence that the specimen meets import requirements.
According to the USDA, this fluid situation is a case of agricultural smuggling that will remain under investigation.