california seed law

California seed law

  • Brenda Lanini, Sr. Environmental Scientist (Supervisor)
    Nursery Seed and Cotton Program
    Pest Exclusion Branch
    Department of Food and Agriculture
    1220 N Street, Room 344
    Sacramento, California 95814
    T: 916-330-6715
    E: [email protected]

Debbie Meyer, Program Supervisor – Plant Diagnostic Center
California Department of Food & Agriculture
3294 Meadowview Road
Sacramento, CA 95832
T: 916-262-1137
F: 916-262-1190
E: [email protected]

Karen Ross, Secretary of Agriculture
1220 N Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
T: 916-654-0433
F: 916-654-0403

Reference Links for California:

Labeling & Distribution Information Survey:

The following responses are provided by the California Department of Food and Agriculture in regard to general questions about the California State Seed Law.

Does your state seed law model RUSSL?
Answer = YES, as much as possible. RUSSL is cited if legislation is proposed that is different than what is in RUSSL.

Does your state law have a permit/license requirement for seedsmen to distribute seeds in your state? If yes, please briefly describe your system and fees.
Answer = YES – all firms (individuals) that offer for sale, ag, grass or veg seed, must obtain authorization. Fee for authorization = $40. At renewal (July), report prior fiscal year seed sales on any containers > 4 oz. Labelers pay assessment on sales 25 cents/$100.

Does your state offer “Seed Arbitration” as a part of your seed law, or as a separate law?
Answer = Mandatory Dispute Resolution Process in the Seed Law; cases are released after mediation.

Do you allow the use of the arbitration label notice as referenced in RUSSL?
Answer = YES – Mandatory to have Arbitration-Mediation-Conciliation Statement on the label.

Does your arbitration law have any unique or special requirements?
Answer = YES. We only go through mediation. We gave up on implementing arbitration for several reasons.

Does your state have “pre-emption” legislation to restrictlocal political subdivisions from regulating seed?
Answer = YES – (CA FAC 5323)

Does your law allow for “brand name” labeling?
Answer = YES because not specifically addressed. We defer to FSA.

Does your law allow for “variety not stated” labeling?
Answer = YES,В On Ag Seed but Variety is required on Veg Seed and PVP seed.

Does your law allow for “variety unknown” labeling?
Answer = YES

Do you allow the use of the abbreviated term “VNS” to be used in place of the phrase “variety not stated”?
Answer = YES – not specifically addressed but allow for common names.

Does your state seed law allow labeling by “crop kind” only?
Answer = YES

What is the “TEST DATE” requirement for agricultural and vegetable seeds in your state?
Answer = Agricultural Seed = 8 months at wholesale, 15 months at retail or by a dealer. Vegetable Seed = 8 months at wholesale, 15 months at retail or by a dealer. Lawn & Turf Seed = 8 months at wholesale, 15 months at retailer or by a dealer, but for non-far usage – viability assurance statement. Expired. no enforcement, still sell.

Does your state law include requirements for “Sell by”/”Packed For” labeling vegetables, flowers and turf grass? If yes, briefly explain.
Answer = YES – Additional requirement for nonfarm usage = seed viability assurance statement.
Ag Seeds = Sell By (MM/YY) or Use Before (MM/YY) not to exceed 15 mos retail time period allowed. Veg Seeds = Packed for (YY) Season or Sell By (MM/YY). NO flower seed regs in CA.

Does your state regulate flower seeds?
Answer = NO. Seed Law came at request of industry. Flower industry opted out.

Native/Conservation/reclamation species?
Answer = YES. If domesticated.

Does your state law have any specific language regulating “GMOs”?
Answer = YES. Have definitions and procedures to serve as neutral 3rd party to sample disputes of contamination or theft.
52301. Procedure for permission to enter upon the farmer’s land
52302. Request for Secretary’s participation in sampling and analysis
52303. Crop material eligible for sampling
52304. Timeframe for notification of testing results from samples
52305. Farmer liability
52306. Severability of provisions
52311. Penalty exemptions

Does your state test for specific GMO varietal traits on official samples?
Answer = Limited amount. Some rapid strip tests are conducted to verify presence or absence of certain traits.

Does your state seed law have any “unique” or special requirements and/or prohibitions?
Answer = YES, we have a section about not violating the PVP Act. But the PVP Act is weak in terms of label requirements.

Example enforcement – mainly to notify PVP certificate holder their variety is being sold and if they want to maintain protected status they “should” put notification on the label. “Should” does not allow a control official to call it a violation. PVPA is weak!

Typical letter
“varieties should not be dispensed in a form which can be propagated without notice that they are protected varieties [Part K Section 2541(6)]; to do otherwise is to jeopardize the valid status of the PVP certificates and the rights of the certificate holders. The Inspector noted that the labels and containers inspected at XYZ SEED CO did not provide notice that the subject varieties are protected under the Plant Variety Protection Act. In addition, there is no indication on the analysis tags of the varieties’ PVP status.

Section 52489 of the California Seed Law states that it is “unlawful for any person to violate the provisions of the United States Plant Variety Protection Act contained in Part J (commencing with Section 2531), Part K (commencing with Section 2541), or Part L (commencing with Section 2561) of Subchapter III of Chapter 57 of Title 7 of the United States Code, as enacted.”

California seed law Brenda Lanini , Sr. Environmental Scientist (Supervisor) Nursery Seed and Cotton Program Pest Exclusion Branch Department of Food and Agriculture 1220 N Street,

Seed Services Program

The goal of seed law enforcement is to protect seed consumers, including vegetable and field crop growers, as well as urban landscapers. Through the California Seed Law (Section 52288, California Food and Agricultural Code), the Seed Services program.

  • regulates the marketing of seeds so that quality information is accessible and accurate.
  • tests for seed purity and germination through sampling.
  • investigates seed complaints and attempts to resolve buyer/seller disputes through mediation.
  • works to prevent the transmission of noxious weed seeds through seed products.
  • supports research and development of seed biotechnology.

Poor quality seeds can cost farmers and home gardeners alike considerable amounts of time, money, and resources, by way of reduced yields, poor crop quality, contamination by weeds or other unwanted species. By enforcing California Seed Law regarding marketing and labeling, the Department is able to ensure that consumers receive the desired product, and that there is supportive legal action for those who are wronged.

  • Application to Sell Seed
  • Application for Phytosanitary Inspection
  • California Seed Law
  • Directory of Registered Seed Sellers
  • USDA Approved Seed Samplers
  • Selling Seed in California Trifold
  • Know What You Sow
  • History of CSL & Seed Program
For Seed Inspectors
  • Label Requirement Checklist & Seed Lot Record of Inspection Form
  • Blank Report 6 in XLS Format for County Monthly Reporting (Microsoft Excel)
  • Instructions for Completion of CDFA Seed Inspection Report 6
Seed Advisory Board
  • Seed Advisory Board Members
  • Seed Advisory Board Vacancy & Questionnaire
  • Upcoming Board Meetings
  • Minutes of Past Meetings
  • CDFA Seed Services Business Needs Analysis Final Report

Seed Law Enforcement

Administered statewide by the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Pest Exclusion Branch, the Seed Services program is a third-party seed inspection program, verifying the accuracy and accessibility of seed label statements as to variety and type, purity, and germination. Local county agricultural commissioners carry out most inspection and enforcement activities, and are in turn trained and supported by state officials. The California Seed Law also authorizes seed certification, through which agricultural and vegetable seed of superior varieties are grown, processed, and distributed under close surveillance and supervision. The state’s authorized seed-certifying agency is the California Crop Improvement Association.

California Seed Advisory Board

The seed industry helps to oversee the enforcement program through the Seed Advisory Board. Created in 1974, the Board is advisory to the Secretary of Food and Agriculture, and makes recommendations on all matters pertaining to California Seed Law and seed inspection regulations, the enforcement program, and the program’s budget (including the State Seed Laboratory). It is comprised of eleven members, nine members from the seed industry and two from the public. Normally, the Board meets at least twice per year, once in May to review proposed budgets for Seed Services and the Seed Laboratory, and once in December to review issues and budget updates. Board members receive no salary but are reimbursed for travel expense.

Seed Services Program The goal of seed law enforcement is to protect seed consumers, including vegetable and field crop growers, as well as urban landscapers. Through the California Seed Law