West Virginia Seed Law

West Virginia Seed Law

West Virginia Code Chapter 19 Article 16



THIS LAW SHOULD BE CLARIFIED AND/OR CHANGED. The West Virginia seed law only regulates seed that is "sold" in the state. Unfortunately, the statute does not elaborate on the definition of "sold." As seen in the seed laws of other states, this term can include "exchanges" where no money changes hands. The statute should clarify what exactly "sold" means, and exempt seed libraries if they do, in fact, come under the law’s scope.

§19-16-1. Definitions.

(b) The term "person" shall include any individual, partnership, corporation, company, society or association;

(c) The term "agricultural seeds" shall include the seeds of grass, forage, cereal, tobacco and fiber crops and any other kinds of seeds commonly recognized within this state as agricultural or field seeds and mixtures of such seeds. Forest seeds shall include all deciduous and coniferous trees and shrubs and ornamentals;

§19-16-2. Label requirements.

Each container of agricultural, forest or vegetable seed which is sold, offered for sale or exposed for sale within the state for sowing purposes, shall bear thereon or have attached thereto in a conspicuous place a plainly written or printed label or tag in the English language, giving the following information:

(b) For vegetable seeds:

(1) Name of kind and variety;

(2) For seeds which germinate less than the standard last established by the commissioner under this article: (a) Percentage of germination, exclusive of hard seed; (b) percentage of hard seed, if present; (c) the calendar month and year the test was completed to determine such percentages; (d) the words "below standard" in not less than eight point type; and

(3) Name and address of the person who labeled said seed, or who sells, offers or exposes said seed for sale within the state.

§19-16-4. Prohibitions.

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to sell, offer for sale or expose for sale any agricultural, forest or vegetable seed within this state:

(1) Unless the test to determine the percentage of germination required by section two of this article shall have been completed within the test period prescribed in regulations issued by the commissioner;

(2) Not labeled in accordance with the provisions of this article or which has false or misleading labeling;

(3) Which has been the subject of false or misleading advertisement;

(4) Containing prohibited weed seeds, subject to tolerances and methods of determination prescribed in the rules and regulations issued under the auspices of this article;

(5) Containing more than two percent by weight of weed seed.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any person within this state:

(1) To detach, alter, deface or destroy any label provided for in this article or the rules and regulations issued thereunder, or to alter or substitute seed in a manner that may defeat the purposes of this article;

(2) To disseminate any false or misleading advertisement concerning agriculture, forest, vegetable or potato seed in any manner or by any means;

(3) To hinder or obstruct in any way any authorized person in the performance of his duties under this article;

(4) To fail to comply with a "stop sale" order.

§19-16-4a. Local laws prohibited.

(a) No political subdivision may regulate the registration, packaging, labeling, sale, storage, distribution, transportation or any other use of seeds.

(b) No political subdivision may adopt or continue in effect any local laws, ordinances or regulations relating to the regulating, registration, packaging, labeling, sale, storage, distribution, transportation or any other use of seeds.

(c) Local laws, ordinances or regulations in violation of this section are void and unenforceable.

§19-16-5. Exemptions.

(a) The provisions of sections two and three, shall not apply:

(1) To grain or potatoes not intended for seeding purposes;

(2) To seed in storage in or consigned to a seed cleaning or processing establishment for cleaning or processing: Provided, that any labeling or other representation which may be made with respect to the uncleaned or unprocessed seed shall be subject to this article;

(b) No person shall be subject to the penalties of this article for having sold or offered or exposed for sale in this state any agricultural, vegetable or potato seeds which were incorrectly labeled or represented as to kind, variety, type, or origin, which seeds cannot be identified by examination thereof, unless he has failed to obtain an invoice or grower’s declaration giving kind, or kind and variety, or kind and type, and origin, if required, and to take such other precautions as may be necessary to insure the identity to be that stated.

§19-16-7. Seizure.

Any lot of seed not in compliance with the provisions of this article shall be subject to seizure on complaint of the commissioner of agriculture to a court of competent jurisdiction. In the event that the court finds the seed to be in violation of this article and orders the condemnation of said seed, it shall be denatured, processed, destroyed, relabeled, or otherwise disposed of in compliance with the laws of this state.

§19-16-8. Violations and prosecutions.

Any person violating any of the provisions of this article shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than twenty-five dollars nor more than two hundred fifty dollars for the first offense, and not less than two hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars for each subsequent offense.

When the commissioner shall find that any person has violated any of the provisions of this article, he or his duly authorized agent or agents may institute proceedings in a court of competent jurisdiction: Provided, however, that no prosecution under this article shall be instituted without the defendant first having been given an opportunity to appear before the commissioner or his duly authorized agent to introduce evidence, either in person or by agent or attorney, at a hearing. If, after such hearing, or without such hearing in case the defendant or his agent or attorney fails or refuses to appear, the commissioner is of the opinion that the evidence warrants prosecution, he shall proceed according to law.