Seed World

APHIS is Seeking Comment on a ‘New Approach’ to the International Seed Trade

In today’s global market, U.S. producers need access to diverse varieties of healthy seed from around the world, and sufficient safeguards to protect their industries against the introduction and distribution of damaging seed-borne diseases, the United States Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) says in a new announcement.

APHIS’ Regulatory Framework for Seed Health (ReFreSH), when fully implemented, will help manage the phytosanitary challenges and risks of introducing and distributing seed-borne diseases, the organization says.

The new ReFreSH web page outlines how this risk-based systems approach works to leverage current seed industry production and quality management practices to reduce overall pest risk. It also has links to the program’s foundational documents for industry to read:

  • Refresh Concept Paper: Describes the seed industry, global trade, and the need for ReFreSH.
  • ReFreSH Accreditation Standard: Describes the essential elements of ReFreSH, outlines requirements for participation in the ReFreSH program, and explains participant roles and responsibilities.
  • ReFreSH Participant Manual: Describes the procedures and processes entities use to comply with the ReFreSH accreditation standard.

Stakeholder Comments

APHIS accepting stakeholder comments on two of these documents until Feb. 23, 2022: the ReFreSH Accreditation Standard and the ReFreSH Participant Manual. APHIS is interested in industry’s thoughts on feasibility, cost, accreditation process, the program’s potential to reduce pest risk, additional industry best practices to manage pest risk, and other issues.

Send your comments or questions about the ReFreSH approach to, or ATTN: ReFreSH Questions, Unit 133, IRM, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road, Riverdale, MD 20737-1236