Import permits

Jane McGary
Fri, 22 Feb 2013 14:56:28 PST
Gastil's description of acquiring import permits from the USDA is 
very helpful. However, I found that at one point fairly far along in 
the procedure, one of their pages froze my computer. I called their 
telephone help line and was told how to reconfigure my browser 
temporarily to alleviate this.

Also, after going through the initial series of steps you can do 
online, you have to physically go to a USDA extension office near 
your home (fortunately there are plenty of them near mine) and 
identify the staff member who is authorized to verify your identity 
by looking at your photo ID, and then that person will input the 
verification into their system (which, the helpful local staff person 
told me, does not always work the way it should). Then you have to 
get back online with USDA to complete the process and order the 
stickers Gastil mentioned.

In addition to getting a permit for the Small Lots of Seed Program 
(originally an initiative by Joyce Fingerut of NARGS, by the way), 
you may as well get a permit to import other plant materials at the 
same time, so that you can import bulbs. I did this recently and it 
was no more time-consuming and confusing than just getting the seed 
permit alone.

The USDA has about twice as many layers of security as my online 
banking, which apparently was put in place because (a) many people 
try to hack all US government websites, (b) there is a high level of 
paranoia as a result, and (c) they did it because they could.

Once you have sent your seed order with the requisite paperwork and 
address stickers, the seeds will be sent to the specified inspection 
office (some are more efficient than others; ours, Seattle, is pretty 
good), and some but not all packages will be opened for inspection. 
The delay can be as much as 5 weeks, and who knows what will happen 
if the "sequester" goes into effect and federal employees' work time 
is reduced.

No doubt it is worth it to prevent the USA from being overrun by 
species tulips, as dangerous as kudzu.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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