Roger Batt

Roger Batt, IEOSA executive director.

Unsolicited packages of Chinese seeds being shipped to Idaho residents could pose a danger to our agricultural industry, and Idaho residents who might receive a packet of these seeds should immediately contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture, regional seed industry officials warned on Thursday.

“These seeds have the potential to cause serious economic damages to our valuable seed industry and other agricultural sectors if they were to be planted. Idahoans who receive these seed packages should not open up the packages and under no circumstance should they plant these seeds,” warned Roger Batt, executive director of the Idaho Eastern-Oregon Seed Association.

Members of the Idaho Eastern-Oregon Seed Association have learned that dozens of individuals in Idaho have already received the Chinese seed packages. Seed industry representatives met with state agricultural officials this morning to obtain an updated briefing on the current situation.

Individuals who have already received or might receive the Chinese seed packages are advised to not open up the packages and to contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Protection and Quarantine office (located in Idaho) at 208-373-1600.

The Idaho and Eastern Oregon region is one of only five major worldwide seed production regions and represents a $750 million dollar segment of the agricultural economy. Seed companies within this region ship more than 50 species of seed crops to over 120 countries worldwide to feed a global population.

"We want to thank those citizens who have contacted the U.S. Department of Agriculture to alert the rest of us about this situation. Many citizens who receive these seed packets would not know or suspect any potential risk of contaminated seed. At this time, we need to spread the warning to protect people and our agriculture industry," noted IEOSA President Gina Lohnes.

Before any seed is shipped into Idaho from another country, it has to go through a rigorous inspection and testing process that certifies that the seed is disease and pest free. This protects the region’s agricultural industry from unwanted diseases and pests that can cause damage to existing seed and other crop varieties or potentially impact human or animal health.

“The last thing we want is for folks to plant these seeds in their gardens. The seeds in these packets from China have not undergone the proper testing and certification channels prior to coming into the U.S. That raises huge red flags for our seed industry because we have no idea what they are, if they are invasive species, or whether they contain toxins or diseases that could pose a myriad of dangers to our agricultural industry or to human or animal health,” Batt continued.

The Idaho Eastern-Oregon Seed Association is a non-profit organization representing over 120 companies in the Idaho and Eastern-Oregon seed trade. The organization was formed in 1944 and is the voice for the Idaho and Eastern-Oregon seed industry.

Photo: Roger Batt, IEOSA Executive Director.