USDA Restrictions
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: J.S. Avery
Posted on: October 1, 2002

Did th USDA implement the import restrictions on 22 July 2002? You are one of my favorite plant/seed sources, and your catalog is my favorite. Do you have room for one more Yank?

We always have room for one more Yank!

We have been blessed with a very large loyal American clientele. We intend to continue to serve our U.S. customers despite impending changes in rules affecting the movement of plant material into the United States.

First, I should point out that our plant shipments are unaffected by the changes in USDA regulations. Richters has been on a program approved by the USDA whereby all of our plants are pre-approved for entry into the U.S. Our plants are inspected by government officials periodicly to ensure that all of the USDA’s requirements are met. So, we will be able to ship your plant orders the same as always.

On the seed side, the USDA is changing the way seeds enter the U.S. Already in 2002 the USDA has implemented a new policy affecting seed imports from countries other than Canada (and perhaps Mexico also). Now all seeds must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate obtained in the country of origin.

For commercial seed companies shipping small packets of seeds intended for home gardeners, this new phytosanitary will effectively block seed shipments to the U.S. because obtaining phytosanitary certificates for each seed shipment would be far too costly.

The date for implementing the new rules was postponed several times. As of now, the date is October 22; however, the Canadian authorities have requested another extension which is expected to be granted.

For shipments coming from Canada, where Richters is located, the USDA has agreed to a pre-approval system for seeds much like the plant system. We are hoping to become authorized under that system so that our seed shipments may continue to enter the U.S. unimpeded. This pre-approval system has not been finalized yet, and there are still questions that need to be addressed, particularly on the Canadian side. But we are in close contact with the authorities and we hope to have the new system in place in time for the 2003 season.

I should point out that these phytosanitary rule changes are not the only rule changes that could affect the movement of plant material into the U.S. There is a separate initiative to control invasive species that is looming on the horizon. This initiative would limit plant and seed imports to only those species that are pre-approved for entry into the U.S. At this point we don’t know much, but the early indications are that the so-called "white list" of approved species may be so limited that American gardeners could be seriously affected. This initiative is still a few years away from implementation, but will are keeping a close watch. If we have to set up a U.S. branch to serve our U.S. customers, we will do that!

Thank you so much for your support, and we look forward to continuing to serve you and our many American friends for years to come.

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