Seed imports to U.S.

Lee Poulsen
Tue, 23 Jan 2007 17:03:58 PST
I just a phone call from USDA/APHIS down the street from the L.A. 
Airport informing me that a package of seeds had arrived from Rachel 
Saunders in South Africa, and that I could either take time off from 
work to fight traffic and drive over there and pick it up in person. Or 
I could open an account with Federal Express and then give them my 
account number that they could charge to and they could ship it across 
town via FedEx. Or I could mail them actual postage stamps of 
sufficient value ($1.35) for the weight of the package to have the US 
Postal Service deliver it to my home. The guy I spoke with says he has 
called several superiors of his several times since this new method was 
begun seeking instruction on what exactly to do. He also acknowledged 
that the USDA and the USPS are having an argument over whether the USPS 
has to continue shipment or if they can charge full postage rates 
depending on what the final destination that the package was addressed 
to is. (The permit says the shipper should not put our address on the 
outside of the package, but when the Archibalds put both the green and 
yellow label and my address on the outside of the package it was 
delivered all the way to my house. I couldn't tell if USDA/APHIS had 
opened it for inspection or not.)

What this guy did say was that I could not send them money in any form 
nor could they take a credit card number. I talked over various crazy 
ideas with their dispatcher and she said that the program was so new 
they hadn't really thought up any long term plans or solutions. I asked 
her about sending her a supply of postage stamps that she could save 
and use until they were all used up. She thought she could probably 
keep them in a file for all packages I received and notify me when the 
supply was gone. She suggested the idea that I send the postage stamps 
along with the copy of my permit and the green and yellow label to the 
overseas sender and then that person could include the postage stamps 
inside the package together with the seeds. This of course would 
require that I know how much the package was going to weigh beforehand, 
or at least have an estimate of it.

In any case, it is an added complication that I wish they had figured 
out back when they were figuring out this new method of seed importing. 
Question: In Australia, after they've checked over your incoming seed, 
do you have to go pick them up at the inspection station? Or are you 
required to send them or provide them with the means or money to ship 
them from the station to your home? Or do they just put them back in 
the mail and your postal service delivers them to the final destination 
without any additional charges? It would be somewhat ironic if they 
don't charge you for that service since they do charge you for just 
about everything else including many services that we in the U.S. don't 
have to pay for, and yet here in the U.S. they do want to charge 
additional for delivering the seeds the final leg of their journey. (I 
also found out that if I need to get a phytosanitary certificate to 
mail plants overseas, for about US$40 total the inspector will drive 
over to my house, inspect all the plants I want to send, make out the 
certificate, and give it to me. I believe that is cheaper than what the 
Australians have to pay.) Anyway, just wondering.

--Lee Poulsen
Pasadena, California, USDA Zone 10a

More information about the pbs mailing list