State officials issue caution about shipping greenery

    AUGUSTA — Maine decorative-plant shippers who are sending Christmas trees and wreaths around the country for the holiday season can save money and lost products by noting important regulations enforced by other states, according to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF). The Department promotes and assists natural resource-based Maine businesses, and is seeking to help educate shippers and spread the word in advance of the holiday season.

    “Shippers should be especially aware this year of the many state laws and regulations regarding the movement of plants and forest products,” warned Ann Gibbs, Maine state horticulturist. “Many states, including Maine, closely monitor shipments to prevent infestation by invasive insects and the spread of plant diseases. Planning ahead benefits Maine shippers by speeding along deliveries in this time-sensitive industry,” said Gibbs.
    DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed the importance of working to educate shippers in advance of the holidays to avoid or reduce shipping delays. “Maine forests have contributed to the holiday spirit across America for generations. The DACF supports and enhances that tradition and further development of Maine’s natural resource economy,” said Whitcomb.
    DACF staff offer wreath and tree shippers the following advice:
    Check out-of-state orders in advance, especially those headed to California, to make sure they don’t have insect damage on the needles.
    Import regulations can vary from state to state, shippers should check them out beforehand.
    Distributors should identify their products clearly through labeling, beginning with the statement, “Grown in Maine,” followed by the county of origin and the name and address of the shipper.
    Labels should indicate the contents of packages, including the different types of greenery, nuts, fruits and cones used to decorate wreaths.
    “Import requirements for cut trees, wreaths with ornamental nuts and fruit arrangements exist to protect regional agriculture or other commodities from the risk of plant pests,” Gibbs explained. Unfortunately, despite the quality of Maine products, some shippers have learned about these regulations the hard way and have had shipments delayed, impounded and occasionally destroyed. We want to prevent any losses by getting the word out now,” said Gibbs.
    An informational sheet, “Know State Regulations When shipping Wreaths and Trees,” is available on the web at http://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/horticulture/wreaths.htm
    Shippers with questions are also invited to call 287-3891 or email sarah.h.scally@maine.gov
    For more information visit http://www.maine.gov/acf.

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