Seed Regulations and Testing

The Science and Technology Program’s Seed Regulatory and Testing Division (SRTD) is responsible for enforcing the Federal Seed Act (FSA) and facilitating domestic and international seed trade through a variety of industry supporting programs.

Federal Seed Act Program

We are responsible for enforcing the FSA, a truth-in-labeling law that regulates the labeling and advertising of seed shipped in interstate commerce.  The FSA requires that seed shipments are labeled with certain information necessary for the seed buyer to make an informed choice.  SRTD works collaboratively with State partners to promote uniformity among State seed laws and fair competition within the seed trade.

Seed Testing Program

The Seed Testing Program supports the Federal Seed Act Program by conducting truth-in-labeling verification tests on regulatory samples.  The Program also offers voluntary fee-for-service seed quality testing.  Seed companies that market seed for export constitute the majority of businesses who request voluntary seed testing services.  Test results are reported on USDA Seed Analysis Certificates, which some importing countries require as accompanying information with the seed they import from the U.S.

Regulatory and voluntary service testing provided by SRTD include physical purity tests, germination tests, noxious-weed seed examinations, conductivity tests, seed moisture examinations, GMO testing, and varietal verification tests.

U.S. OECD Seed Schemes Program

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Seed Schemes is an organization of 61 participating countries that develop rules for certifying seed varietal purity.  The U.S. OECD Seed Schemes Program provides daily oversight of 30 Seed Certifying Agencies participating in the program.  More than 150 million pounds of seed are shipped through the U.S. OECD Seed Schemes program annually.

Accredited Seed Program

We administer several voluntary seed certification and accreditation programs.  The goal of these programs is to ensure that the methods and procedures used in processing and packaging seed sold in domestic and international markets meet or exceed specified requirements and standards.  Programs administered include:  Accredited Field Inspection Program, Accredited Seed Sampling Program, Accredited Seed Laboratory Program, Accredited Seed Conditioning Program, and Canadian Seed Grader Program. Individuals or entities who meet all requirements of their selected program(s) and successfully pass a program audit or a knowledge-based exam (if applicable) will be able to represent themselves as accredited.

Seed Variety Name Clearance Service

We offer a variety naming clearance service to assist seed companies and plant breeders in avoiding legal or regulatory issues caused by improper seed variety naming.  This service is provided at no cost.   Note:  The use of the Seed Variety Name Clearance Service is voluntary, and our database is therefore incomplete.  We cannot guarantee that names cleared are free of conflicts.

For more information contact:

Ernest L. Allen, Director
USDA, AMS, S&T, Seed Regulatory and Testing Division
801 Summit Crossing Place, Suite C  
Gastonia, NC 28054
(704) 810-8884

Additional Resources