Project to Import Herbs from Costa Rica
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Robert McCarthy
Posted on: October 02, 2006

Please accept my sincere apologies for the long delay in responding to your queries. I note that you also called and left a message with a member of my staff. I have been very busy and I am just now getting to email and calls that have been piling up over the past month or so.

I am interested in having some herbs grown and now must wait till the spring, due to the fact I live in the Northeast of the United States. My question is: if I were to have this crop grown by a contracted farmer in Costa Rica (hopfully I could buy a small acrea or two) -- would there be major issue bringing in the herbal crop back into the United States, considering the strict sanctions now?

Much depends on what you plan to bring back. First, to be clear, when you use the the term "bring back" I am assuming that you mean to have the product shipped to you; in other words, you do not mean to bring back with you personally on, say, a flight from Costa Rica. Bringing back product with you personally is usually more trouble than it’s worth -- at least that’s been my experience.

If you plan to have herbs shipped to you in dried form then I don’t expect that you will have too many problems. There are always exceptions, but when the product is in a dried form with no propagative potential then the customs authorities are pretty easy going. If on the other hand you plan to bring back live plants or seeds that can be planted then you will encounter many more bureaucratic hurdles. Live plants and seeds are regulated by the USDA while dried herbs are regulated by the FDA; a discussion of the complex rules of each is beyond the scope of this Q&A format. I should note that the U.S. rules for agricultural commodities are about to get tighter this fall and I am not yet clear what the full impact of those changes will be.

I am so happy I found this site, thanks, it’s cool.

I noticed that you are available, as a consultant, mentor, regarding the creation of a cottage industry. May I ask you what would the cost be for your services?

Lately I have been so busy that I am not sure that I have time to assist as a consultant. Whether I could do it at all would depend on the nature of the project and the time commitment required. At this point I would suggest that you provide me with more detail about the project you have in mind and I will let you know if you can be of any help and what my rates would be.

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