Importing bulbs and seeds

Michael Mace
Thu, 29 Jan 2009 11:00:50 PST
Welcome and nice post, Byron.  I'll be interested to hear how your
permitting experience goes.

>>I find it curious that I can mail in an application with no ID
requirement, but for online transactions I need to go in person to provide
ID before setting up an account...  If it's good enough for the IRS,
shouldn't it be good enough for APHIS?

Maybe Bill A. can confirm this, but the impression I get is that USDA had a
pre-existing online permitting system for much bigger stuff, and retrofitted
the small seed packets program into that.  So the issue is not that they
necessarily want a photo ID from seed importers, but you need that in order
to do online permits with the USDA in general.

The problem for me has been that the ID approvers at the USDA are located in
the USDA's field offices, which in my part of California means rural areas.
So there is no ID approver in all of Silicon Valley; the closest is in
Hollister, 1-2 hours to the south of me.

I complained about this to one of the APHIS phone support people (who was
very polite and responsive, by the way), and he said the approver might
accept a copy of my ID by fax.  Apparently some of them do that.  I asked my
approver about that, and she refused.  She wouldn't even accept a mailed,
notarized copy of my photo ID (I offered).

It's all typical stuff that you get when dealing with a big bureaucracy --
procedures driven by the internal conditions of the organization rather than
customers, unclear rules inconsistently enforced, etc.  Doesn't mean anyone
is trying to be evil; it's just a result of any large organization.  The way
to deal with it (in addition to talking to Congress) is to share information
on how the system really works, and get advice from insiders who are willing
to help.  Which we're doing here.  Progress.

Thank goodness for the fax option for getting a permit.

San Jose, CA (zone 9, min temp 20F)

PS:  By the way, Bill A, if you're looking for to fix the ID problem -- we
should be able to apply for a PPQ 587 permit with level 1 eAuthentication
rather than level 2.  Please.  It's level 2 that requires the photo ID.

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