Due to the high volume of inquiries and reports from residents receiving unsolicited, mislabeled or unlabeled packages of seed in the mail, the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are asking that New Yorkers mail the sealed packages 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, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 500 New Karner Road, Albany, N.Y. 12205.
Those who receive seeds should not use 9-1-1 to report the receipt of seeds.
The USDA is investigating this situation and has stated that it does not have any evidence indicating this is 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.
USDA 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.