Livingston County Sheriff's Office Photograph The Livingston County Sheriff's Office released this photograph of a package received by a local resident that was shipped from China and contained unlabeled seeds. Similar reports are being made around the country, prompting an investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

New advice for mystery seed packages

ALBANY — Due to the high volume of inquiries and reports from residents receiving unsolicited packages of seed in the mail, the state Department of Agriculture and Markets is offering new guidance.

New York residents are asked to mail the sealed package of seeds, the original packaging, the residents’ contact information, and any additional relevant details directly to the USDA at:

Office of the State Plant Health Director of New York c/o Christopher Zaloga,

United States Department of Agriculture

500 New Karner Rd.

Albany, NY 12205

Those who receive seeds should not call 911.

The USDA is investigating this situation. It does not have any evidence indicating the seeds are something other than a “brushing scam,” where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales.

Legitimate seeds imported into the United States meet rigorous standards to ensure quality and prevent introduction of invasive species, insects and diseases. People who receive seeds that they did not order, that are mislabeled, or are from a questionable source, should not plant or handle the seeds.

The Department recommends that if residents buy seeds online, they buy from a reputable, known source. Most seed companies maintain their own e-commerce sites.

Purchasing from a known, reputable seed company increases the likelihood of receiving properly labeled seeds that meet germination, sanitation and trueness to variety standards. It also ensures the seeds have met standards that protect plants and agricultural crops from invasive pests and noxious weeds.

Residents can email the USDA at erich.l.glasgow@usda.gov.

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