U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: Oct 04, 2023
Terms used in the singular form in this part shall be construed as the plural, and vice versa, as the case may demand. The following terms, when used in this part, shall be construed, respectively, to mean:
Administrator. The Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, or any other individual to whom the Administrator delegates authority to act in his or her stead.
Agricultural seed. The following kinds and varieties of grass, forage, and field crop seed that are used for seeding purposes in the United States:
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
APHIS inspector. Any employee of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service or any other individual authorized by the Administrator to enforce this part.
Coated Seed. Any seed unit covered with any substance that changes the size, shape, or weight of the original seed. Seeds coated with ingredients such as, but not limited to, rhizobia, dyes, and pesticides are excluded.
Declaration. A written statement of a grower, shipper, processor, dealer, or importer giving for any lot of seed the kind, variety, type, origin, or the use for which the seed is intended.
Hybrid. When applied to kinds or varieties of seed means the first generation seed of a cross produced by controlling the pollination and by combining two or more inbred lines; one inbred or a single cross with an open-pollinated variety; or two selected clones, seed lines, varieties, or species. “Controlling the pollination” means to use a method of hybridization that will produce pure seed that is at least 75 percent hybrid seed. Hybrid designations shall be treated as variety names.
Import/importation. To bring into the territorial limits of the United States.
Kind. One or more related species or subspecies that singly or collectively is known by one common name, e.g., soybean, flax, or carrot.
Lot of seed. A definite quantity of seed identified by a lot number, every portion or bag of which is uniform, within permitted tolerances, for the factors that appear in the labeling.
Mixture. Seeds consisting of more than one kind or variety, each present in excess of 5 percent of the whole.
Official seed laboratory. An official laboratory member of the Association of Official Seed Analysts.
Pelleted seed. Any seed unit covered with a substance that changes the size, shape, or weight of the original seed in order to improve the plantability or singulation of the seed.
Person. Any individual, partnership, corporation, company, society, association, receiver, trustee, or other legal entity or organized group.
Port of first arrival. The land area (such as a seaport, airport, or land border station) where a person, or a land, water, or air vehicle, first arrives after entering the territorial limits of the United States, and where inspection of articles is carried out by APHIS inspectors.
Registered seed technologist. A registered member of the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists.
Screenings. Chaff, sterile florets, immature seed, weed seed, inert matter, and any other materials removed in any way from any seeds in any kind of cleaning or processing and which contains less than 25 percent of live agricultural or vegetable seeds.
State. Any State, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands of the United States, and any other territory or possession of the United States.
United States. All of the States.
Variety. A subdivision of a kind which is characterized by growth, plant, fruit, seed, or other characteristics by which it can be differentiated from other sorts of the same kind.
Vegetable seed. The seed of the following kinds and varieties that are or may be grown in gardens or on truck farms and are or may be generally known and sold under the name of vegetable seed:
§ 361.2 - Preemption of State and local laws; general restrictions on the importation of seed and screenings.
(a) The regulations in this part preempt State and local laws regarding seed and screenings imported into the United States while the seed and screenings are in foreign commerce. Seed and screenings imported for immediate distribution and sale to the consuming public remain in foreign commerce until sold to the ultimate consumer. The question of when foreign commerce ceases in other cases must be considered on a case-by-case basis.
(b) No person shall import any agricultural seed, vegetable seed, or screenings into the United States unless the importation is in compliance with this part.
(c) Any agricultural seed, vegetable seed, or screenings imported into the United States not in compliance with this part shall be subject to exportation, destruction, disposal, or any remedial measures that the Administrator determines are necessary to prevent the dissemination into the United States of noxious weeds.
(d) Except as provided in § 361.7(b), and in addition to the permit requirements of § 319.37–5 of this chapter, coated or pelleted seed, or seed that is embedded in a substrate that obscures visibility may enter the United States only if each lot of seed is accompanied by an officially drawn and sealed sample of seed drawn from the lot before the seed was coated or pelleted. The sample must be drawn in a manner consistent with that described in § 361.5 of this part.
(e) Except as provided in §§ 361.4(a)(3) and 361.7(c), screenings of all agricultural seed and vegetable seed are prohibited entry into the United States.
(a) All lots of agricultural seed, vegetable seed, and screenings imported into the United States must be accompanied by a declaration from the importer of the seed or screenings. The declaration must state the kind, variety, and origin of each lot of seed or screenings and the use for which the seed or screenings are being imported.
(b) Each container of agricultural seed and vegetable seed imported into the United States for seeding (planting) purposes must be labeled to indicate the identification code or designation for the lot of seed; the name of each kind or kind and variety of agricultural seed or the name of each kind and variety of vegetable seed present in the lot in excess of 5 percent of the whole; and the designation “hybrid” when the lot contains hybrid seed. Kind and variety names used on the label shall conform to the kind and variety names used in the definitions of “agricultural seed” and “vegetable seed” in § 361.1. If any seed in the lot has been treated, each container must be further labeled, in type no smaller than 8 point, as follows:
(1) The label must indicate that the seed has been treated and provide the name of the substance or process used to treat the seed. Substance names used on the label shall be the commonly accepted coined, chemical (generic), or abbreviated chemical name.
(i) Commonly accepted coined names are commonly recognized as names of particular substances, e.g., thiram, captan, lindane, and dichlone.
(ii) Examples of commonly accepted chemical (generic) names are blue-stone, calcium carbonate, cuprous oxide, zinc hydroxide, hexachlorobenzene, and ethyl mercury acetate. The terms “mercury” or “mercurial” may be used in labeling all types of mercurials.
(iii) Examples of commonly accepted abbreviated chemical names are BHC (1,2,3,4,5,6-Hexachlorocyclohexane) and DDT (dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane).
(2) If the seed has been treated with a mercurial or similarly toxic substance harmful to humans and vertebrate animals, the label must include a representation of a skull and crossbones and a statement indicating that the seed has been treated with poison. The skull and crossbones must be at least twice the size of the type used for the information provided on the label, and the poison warning statement must be written in red letters on a background of distinctly contrasting color. Mercurials and similarly toxic substances include the following:
(3) If the seed has been treated with a substance other than one classified as a mercurial or similarly toxic substance under paragraph (b)(2) of this section, and the amount remaining with the seed is harmful to humans or other vertebrate animals, the label must indicate that the seed is not to be used for food, feed, or oil purposes. Any amount of any substance used to treat the seed that remains with the seed will be considered harmful when the seed is in containers of more than 4 ounces, except that the following substances will not be deemed harmful when present at a rate less than the number of parts per million (p/m) indicated:
(c) In the case of seed in bulk, the information required under paragraph (b) of this section shall appear in the invoice or other records accompanying and pertaining to such seed. If the seed is in containers and in quantities of 20,000 pounds or more, regardless of the number of lots included, the information required on each container under paragraph (b) of this section need not be shown on each container if each container has stenciled upon it or bears a label containing a lot designation and the invoice or other records accompanying and pertaining to such seed bear the various statements required for the respective seeds.
(d) Each container of agricultural seed and vegetable seed imported into the United States for cleaning need not be labeled to show the information required under paragraph (b) of this section if:
(1) The seed is in bulk;
(2) The seed is in containers and in quantities of 20,000 pounds or more, regardless of the number of lots involved, and the invoice or other records accompanying and pertaining to the seed show that the seed is for cleaning; or
(3) The seed is in containers and in quantities of less than 20,000 pounds, and each container carries a label that bears the words “Seed for cleaning.”
(a) All agricultural seed, vegetable seed, and screenings imported into the United States shall be made available for examination by an APHIS inspector at the port of first arrival and shall remain at the port of first arrival until released by an APHIS inspector. Lots of agricultural seed, vegetable seed, or screenings may enter the United States without meeting the sampling requirements of paragraph (b) of this section if the lot is:
(1) Seed that is not being imported for seeding (planting) purposes and the declaration required by § 361.3(a) states the purpose for which the seed is being imported;
(2) Seed that is being shipped in bond through the United States;
(3) Screenings from seeds of wheat, oats, barley, rye, buckwheat, field corn, sorghum, broomcorn, flax, millet, proso, soybeans, cowpeas, field peas, or field beans that are not being imported for seeding (planting) purposes and the declaration accompanying the screenings as required under § 361.2(a) indicates that the screenings are being imported for processing or manufacturing purposes;
(4) Seed that is being imported for sowing for experimental or breeding purposes, is not for sale, is limited in quantity to the amount indicated in column 3 of table 1 of § 361.5, and is accompanied by a declaration stating the purpose for which it is being imported (seed imported for increase purposes only will not be considered as being imported for experimental or breeding purposes); or
(5) Seed that was grown in the United States, exported, and is now returning to the United States, provided that the person importing the seed into the United States furnishes APHIS with the following documentation:
(i) Export documents indicating the quantity of seed and number of containers, the date of exportation from the United States, the distinguishing marks on the containers at the time of exportation, and the name and address of the United States exporter;
(ii) A document issued by a Customs or other government official of the country to which the seed was exported indicating that the seed was not admitted into the commerce of that country; and
(iii) A document issued by a Customs or other government official of the country to which the seed was exported indicating that the seed was not commingled with other seed after being exported to that country.
(b) Except as provided in §§ 361.5(a)(2) and 361.7, samples will be taken from all agricultural seed and vegetable seed imported into the United States for seeding (planting) purposes prior to being released into the commerce of the United States.
(1) Samples of seed will be taken from each lot of seed in accordance with § 361.5 to determine whether any seeds of noxious weeds listed in § 361.6(a) are present. If seeds of noxious weeds are present at a level higher than the tolerances set forth in § 361.6(b), the lot of seed will be deemed to be adulterated and will be rejected for entry into the United States for seeding (planting) purposes. Once deemed adulterated, the lot of seed must be:
(i) Exported from the United States;
(ii) Destroyed under the monitoring of an APHIS inspector;
(iii) Cleaned under APHIS monitoring at a seed-cleaning facility that is operated in accordance with § 361.8(a); or
(iv) If the lot of seed is adulterated with the seeds of a noxious weed listed in § 361.6(a)(2), the seed may be allowed entry into the United States for feeding or manufacturing purposes, provided the importer withdraws the original declaration and files a new declaration stating that the seed is being imported for feeding or manufacturing purposes and that no part of the seed will be used for seeding (planting) purposes.
(2) Seed deemed adulterated may not be mixed with any other seed unless the Administrator determines that two or more lots of seed deemed adulterated are of substantially the same quality and origin. In such cases, the Administrator may allow the adulterated lots of seed to be mixed for cleaning as provided in paragraph (b)(1)(iii) of this section.
(3) If the labeling of a lot of seed is false or misleading in any respect, the seed will be rejected for entry into the United States. A falsely labeled lot of seed must be:
(i) Exported from the United States;
(ii) Destroyed under the monitoring of an APHIS inspector; or
(iii) The seed may be allowed entry into the United States if the labeling is corrected under the monitoring of an APHIS inspector to accurately reflect the character of the lot of seed.
(a) Sample sizes. As provided in § 361.4(b), samples of seed will be taken from each lot of seed being imported for seeding (planting) purposes to determine whether any seeds of noxious weeds listed in § 361.6(a) are present. The samples shall be drawn in the manner described in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section. Unused portions of samples of rare or expensive seeds will be returned by APHIS upon request of the importer.
(1) A minimum sample of not less than 1 quart shall be drawn from each lot of agricultural seed; a minimum sample of not less than 1 pint shall be drawn from each lot of vegetable seed, except that a sample of
(i) If the lot of seed is a mixture consisting of one predominant kind of seed or a group of kinds of similar size, the weight of the working sample shall be the weight shown in column 1 of table 1 of this section for the kind or group of kinds that comprises more than 50 percent of the sample.
(ii) If the lot of seed is a mixture consisting of two or more kinds or groups of kinds of different sizes, none of which comprises over 50 percent of the sample, the weight of the working sample shall be the weighted average (to the nearest half gram) of the weight shown in column 1 of table 1 of this section for each of the kinds that comprise the sample, as determined by the following method:
(A) Multiply the percentage of each component of the mixture (rounded off to the nearest whole number) by the sample sizes shown in column 1 of table 1 of this section;
(B) Add all these products;
(C) Total the percentages of all components of the mixtures; and
(D) Divide the sum in paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(B) of this section by the total in paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(C) of this section.
(2) It is not ordinarily practical to sample and test small lots of seed offered for entry. The maximum sizes of lots of each kind of seed not ordinarily sampled are shown in column 2 of table 1 of this section.
(3) The maximum sizes of lots of each kind of seed allowed entry without sampling for sowing for experimental or breeding purposes as provided in § 361.4(a)(4) are shown in column 3 of table 1 of this section.
|Name of seed||Working weight for noxious weed examination
|Maximum weight of seed lot not ordinarily sampled
|Maximum weight of seed lot permitted entry for experimental or breeding purposes without sampling
|Cantaloupe (see Melon)|
|Gherkin, West India||160||25||50|
|Spinach, New Zealand||500||25||50|
|Bean (see Velvetbean)|
|(Out of bur)||70||25||100|
|(Out of bur)||50||25||100|
|Clover, large hop||10||25||100|
|Clover, small hop (suckling)||20||25||100|
|Clover, sub (subterranean)||250||25||100|
|(Other than caryopses)||100||25||100|
|(Other than caryopses)||60||25||100|
|Lespedeza, sericea or Chinese||30||25||100|
|Poa trivialis (see bluegrass, rough)|
|Wheat × Agrotricum||500||100||500|
|Wheatgrass, fairway crested||40||25||100|
|Wheatgrass, standard crested||50||25||100|
|Zoysia Japonica (see Japanese lawngrass)|
|Zoysia matrella (see Manilagrass)|
(b) Method of sampling. (1) When an importation consists of more than one lot, each lot shall be sampled separately.
(2) For lots of six or fewer bags, each bag shall be sampled. A total of at least five trierfuls shall be taken from the lot.
(3) For lots of more than six bags, five bags plus at least 10 percent of the number of bags in the lot shall be sampled. (Round off numbers with decimals to the nearest whole number, raising 0.5 to the next whole number.) Regardless of the lot size, it is not necessary to sample more than 30 bags.
(4) When the lot of seed to be sampled is comprised of seed in small containers that cannot practically be sampled as described in paragraph (b)(2) or (b)(3) of this section, entire unopened containers may be taken in sufficient number to supply a sample that meets the minimum size requirements of paragraph (a)(1) of this section.
(c) Drawing samples. Samples will not be drawn unless each container is labeled to show the lot designation and the name of the kind and variety of each agricultural seed, or kind and variety of each vegetable seed, appearing on the invoice and other entry papers, and a declaration has been filed by the importer as required under § 361.2(a). In order to secure a representative sample, an APHIS inspector will draw equal portions from evenly distributed parts of the quantity of seed to be sampled; the APHIS inspector, therefore, must be given access to all parts of that quantity.
(1) For free-flowing seed in bags or in bulk, a probe or trier shall be used. For small free-flowing seed in bags, a probe or trier long enough to sample all portions of the bag shall be used. When drawing more than one trierful of seed from a bag, a different path through the seed shall be used when drawing each sample.
(2) For non-free-flowing seed in bags or bulk that may be difficult to sample with a probe or trier, samples shall be obtained by thrusting one's hand into the seed and withdrawing representative portions. The hand shall be inserted in an open position with the fingers held closely together while the hand is being inserted and the portion withdrawn. When more than one handful is taken from a bag, the handfuls shall be taken from well-separated points.
(3) When more than one sample is drawn from a single lot, the samples may be combined into a composite sample unless it appears that the quantity of seed represented as a lot is not of uniform quality, in which case the separate samples shall be forwarded together, but without being combined into a composite sample.
(d) In most cases, samples will be drawn and examined by an APHIS inspector at the port of first arrival. The APHIS inspector may release a shipment if no contaminants are found and the labeling is sufficient. If contaminants are found or the labeling of the seed is insufficient, the APHIS inspector may forward the sample to the USDA Seed Examination Facility (SEF), Beltsville, MD, for analysis, testing, or examination. APHIS will notify the owner or consignee of the seed that samples have been drawn and forwarded to the SEF and that the shipment must be held intact pending a decision by APHIS as to whether the seed is within the noxious weed seed tolerances of § 361.6 and is accurately labeled. If the decision pending is with regard to the noxious weed seed content of the seed and the seed has been determined to be accurately labeled, the seed may be released for delivery to the owner or consignee under the following conditions:
(1) The owner or consignee executes with Customs either a Customs single-entry bond or a Customs term bond, as appropriate, in such amount as is prescribed by applicable Customs regulations;
(2) The bond must contain a condition for the redelivery of the seed or any part thereof upon demand of the Port Director of Customs at any time;
(3) Until the seed is approved for entry upon completion of APHIS' examination, the seed must be kept intact and not tampered with in any way, or removed from the containers except under the monitoring of an APHIS inspector; and
(4) The owner or consignee must keep APHIS informed as to the location of the seed until it is finally entered into the commerce of the United States.
(a) Seeds of the plants listed in paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2) of this section shall be considered noxious weed seeds.
(1) Seeds with no tolerances applicable to their introduction:
(2) Seeds with tolerances applicable to their introduction:
(b) The tolerance applicable to the prohibition of the noxious weed seeds listed in paragraph (a)(2) of this section shall be two seeds in the minimum amount required to be examined as shown in column 1 of table 1 of § 361.5. If fewer than two seeds are found in an initial examination, the shipment from which the sample was drawn may be entered. If two seeds are found in an initial examination, a second sample must be examined. If two or fewer seeds are found in the second examination, the shipment from which the samples were drawn may be entered. If three or more seeds are found in the second examination, the shipment from which the samples were drawn may not be entered. If three or more seeds are found in an initial examination, the shipment from which the sample was drawn may not be entered.
(c) Any seed of any noxious weed that can be determined by visual inspection (including the use of transmitted light or dissection) to be within one of the following categories shall be considered inert matter and not counted as a weed seed:
(1) Damaged seed (other than grasses) with over one half of the embryo missing;
(2) Grass florets and caryopses classed as inert:
(i) Glumes and empty florets of weedy grasses;
(ii) Damaged caryopses, including free caryopses, with over one-half the root-shoot axis missing (the scutellum excluded);
(iii) Immature free caryopses devoid of embryo or endosperm;
(iv) Free caryopses of quackgrass (Elytrigia repens) that are 2 mm or less in length; or
(v) Immature florets of quackgrass (Elytrigia repens) in which the caryopses are less than one-third the length of the palea. The caryopsis is measured from the base of the rachilla.
(3) Seeds of legumes (Fabaceae) with the seed coats entirely removed.
(4) Immature seed units, devoid of both embryo and endosperm, such as occur in (but not limited to) the following plant families: buckwheat (Polygonaceae), morning glory (Convolvulaceae), nightshade (Solanaceae), and sunflower (Asteraceae).
(5) Dodder (Cuscuta spp.) seeds devoid of embryos and seeds that are ashy gray to creamy white in color are inert matter. Dodder seeds should be sectioned when necessary to determine if an embryo is present, as when the seeds have a normal color but are slightly swollen, dimpled, or have minute holes.
(a) In addition to meeting the declaration and labeling requirements of § 361.2 and all other applicable provisions of this part, all Canadian-origin agricultural seed and Canadian-origin vegetable seed imported into the United States from Canada for seeding (planting) purposes or cleaning must be accompanied by a certificate of analysis issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or by a private seed laboratory accredited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Samples of seed shall be drawn using sampling methods comparable to those detailed in § 361.5 of this part. The seed analyst who examines the seed at the laboratory must be accredited to analyze the kind of seed covered by the certificate.
(1) If the seed is being imported for seeding (planting) purposes, the certificate of analysis must verify that the seed meets the noxious weed seed tolerances of § 361.6. Such seed will not be subject to the sampling requirements of § 361.3(b).
(2) If the seed is being imported for cleaning, the certificate of analysis must name the kinds of noxious weed seeds that are to be removed from the lot of seed. Seed being imported for cleaning must be consigned to a facility operated in accordance with § 361.8(a).
(b) Coated or pelleted agricultural seed and coated or pelleted vegetable seed of Canadian origin may be imported into the United States if the seed was analyzed prior to being coated or pelleted and is accompanied by a certificate of analysis issued in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section.
(c) Screenings otherwise prohibited under this part may be imported from Canada if the screenings are imported for processing or manufacture and are consigned to a facility operating under a compliance agreement as provided by § 361.8(b).
(a) Imported seed that is found to contain noxious weed seeds at a level higher than the tolerances set forth in § 361.6(b) may be cleaned under the monitoring of an APHIS inspector. The cleaning will be at the expense of the owner or consignee.
(1) At the location where the seed is being cleaned, the identity of the seed must be maintained at all times to the satisfaction of the Administrator. The refuse from the cleaning must be placed in containers and securely sealed and identified. Upon completion of the cleaning, a representative sample of the seed will be analyzed by a registered seed technologist, an official seed laboratory, or by APHIS; if the seed is found to be within the noxious weed tolerances set forth in § 361.6(b), the seed may be allowed entry into the United States;
(2) The refuse from the cleaning must be destroyed under the monitoring of an APHIS inspector at the expense of the owner or consignee of the seed.
(3) Any person engaged in the business of cleaning imported seed may enter into a compliance agreement under paragraph (c) of this section to facilitate the cleaning of seed imported into the United States under this part.
(b) Any person engaged in the business of processing screenings who wishes to process screenings imported from Canada under § 361.7(c) that are otherwise prohibited under this part must enter into a compliance agreement under paragraph (c) of this section.
(c) A compliance agreement for the cleaning of imported seed or processing of otherwise prohibited screenings from Canada shall be a written agreement
(a) Each person importing agricultural seed or vegetable seed under this part must maintain a complete record, including copies of the declaration and labeling required under this part and a sample of seed, for each lot of seed imported. Except for the seed sample, which may be discarded 1 year after the entire lot represented by the sample has been disposed of by the person who imported the seed, the records must be maintained for 3 years following the importation.
(b) Each sample of vegetable seed and each sample of agricultural seed must be at least equal in weight to the sample size prescribed for noxious weed seed examination in table 1 of § 361.5.
(c) An APHIS inspector shall, during normal business hours, be allowed to inspect and copy the records.
Unless a user fee is payable under § 354.3 of this chapter, the services of an APHIS inspector during regularly assigned hours of duty and at the usual places of duty will be furnished without cost. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's provisions relating to overtime charges for an APHIS inspector's services are set forth in part 354 of this chapter. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will not be responsible for any costs or charges incident to inspections or compliance with this part, other than for the services of the APHIS inspector during regularly assigned hours of duty and at the usual places of duty. All expenses incurred by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (including travel, per diem or subsistence, and salaries of officers or employees of the Department) in connection with the monitoring of cleaning, labeling, other reconditioning, or destruction of seed, screenings, or refuse under this part shall be reimbursed by the owner or consignee of the seed or screenings.