Late last year the USDA announced that it would start enforcing the requirement that all imported seed---including individual packets from gardeners---would require a phytosanitary certificate.
If you recall, this raised quite a storm from seed traders and collectors, not to mention commercial seed houses who deal internationally. Initially they said theyíd start enforcing in January. This was later changed to July 22.
USDA and APHIS web sites have conflicting information about what will or wonít require a certificate. And seed traders have been up in the air. Are they inspecting? Are they requiring written and/or verbal phytosanitary certificates? Are individual gardeners being affected?
I decided to run a test. Early last week I emailed correspondents in 11 different countries. I told them what I was doing, and asked them to send me a packet of unimportant seeds, and clearly mark on the envelopes what was inside.
Iíve heard back from 8 of them so far, six of whom provided a date for when they mailed the seeds. So far, less than a week from the first mailing, and including the holiday weekend, Iíve received 4 of the 6 that already were mailed. These came from: Germany, England; Ireland; and Brazil.
If any of these envelopes were inspected itís being done a strange way. None of them have been opened and resealed.
In other words, Iím beginning to think this was all a tempest in a teapot, and that if any inspection is taking place itís being done only on commercial shipments with customs declarations.
Iíll keep you up to date on what happens with the rest of the shipments. But for now, my conclusion is, if you want trade with overseas gardeners, donít hesitate. Your seeds should come right through.