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CDFA Plant Health

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.

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.