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State Seed Laws

If all seeds marketed for planting were of standard quality and correctly labeled, State and Federal seed laws would be unnecessary. Because this situation does not exist, it has been necessary to regulate the movement and sale of seed to safeguard the ultimate consumer and the seed industry. All 50 States have seed laws that govern the intrastate movement and sale of seed. The enforcement of the various regulations involves inspection and testing of seed to determine if it is correctly represented as required by law and if it is suitable for planting. Connecticut enacted the first State seed law in 1821. Illinois was the next State (1867) to pass such a law. When the Federal Seed Importation Act of 1912 was amended in 1926 to regulate interstate commerce of misbranded seed, 45 States were enforcing laws covering labeling in the intrastate movement and sale of seed. The early State seed laws only regulated the sale of seed containing Canada thistle and other objectionable weeds. State seed laws now include provisions for labeling the kind or kind and variety, purity, germination, date of test, and other information of value to the planter. Some States have included regulations for flower, herb, tree, and shrub seed, in addition to those for agricultural and vegetable seed.

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Publication: Tree Planters' Notes - Issue 71 (1965)