Skip to Content

Plant Material Shipments Federal and State Plant Protection Regulations Relevant to Your Nursery Business

Sarah J. Vanek, University of Kentucky Horticulture Department


Consider for a moment the major advancements in global trade that have developed in recent centuries. International shipments that once took months or even years to transport now reach their destination within hours or days. With regular use of airplanes, semi-trucks, trains, and giant freighters, and with major changes in global-trade policies, the world continually transports massive amounts of cargo around the globe every day.

With these shipments come living organisms that discreetly ride commodities, packaging materials, trucks, ships, and numerous other pathways before entering a foreign habitat. In the past century, countless alien species entered the United States, many of which have caused severe economic and environmental damage. Harmful non-native species are extremely diverse. They include, but are not limited to, insect pests such as Japanese beetle, emerald ash borer, or gypsy moth; weeds such as garlic mustard or spotted knapweed; and plant pathogens causing diseases such as sudden oak death or chestnut blight.

The level of economic or environmental damage sometimes caused by non-native organisms is alarming. Therefore, it is critical that individuals transporting plant materials as well as state and federal agencies that regulate these shipments remain diligent in preventing movement of harmful pests. Here is a basic explanation of some of the regulations that may apply to nursery businesses’ shipping activities.

For the complete publication, please visit:

Plant Material Shipments: Federal and State Plant Protection Regulations Relevant to Your Nursery Business
PDF: 568 kb, 4 pages