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  • Nicole Hostert, Sr. Environmental Scientist (Supervisor)
    Seed Services
    NSC Pest Exclusion
    California Department of Food and Agriculture
    T: 916-403-6715
    C: 916-537-6577 (cell)
    E: nicole.hostert@cdfa.ca.gov

  • 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: dmeyer@cdfa.ca.gov

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

  • Robert Stewart, Interim Executive Director
    California Crop Improvement Association
    Parsons Seed Certification Center
    University of California
    One Shields Avenue
    Davis, CA 95616-8541
    T: 530-752-0544
    F: 530-752-4735
    E: rfstewart@ucdavis.edu

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?
Answer = YES

- 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, 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.
We 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.”