SALEM, OR (KPTV) — The Oregon Department of Agriculture is investigating the alleged mislabeling of nearly 7 million pounds of grass seed.
The investigation was launched in 2018 due to concerns by the Oregon grass seed industry.
ODA examined more than 2,000 seed lots, the records of more than 200 seed dealers and more than 100 seed growers. Investigators reported one company, Dynamic Seed Source LLC, misrepresented 124 seed lots.
A single lot of grass seed can be up to 55,000 pounds of seed.
In all, ODA reports finding 124 violations by Dynamic Seed Source, leading to fines of $248,000.
The seed in question was labeled as the valuable Kentucky 31, or K31, seed.
While Oregon is a significant producer of tall fescue seed, the bulk of K31 is grown in Missouri, according to ODA.
The ODA reports: In 2017, Missouri experienced record low harvest of K31 seed. The shortage lead to record demand for K31, with high demand leading to higher prices. The combination of circumstances worried the Oregon seed industry and there were concerns that the temptation to misrepresent seed as K31 may be too profitable to resist. Under the Federal Seed Act and Oregon law, all seed offered for sale must be labeled by variety, or with a statement “variety not stated.”
“There is still work to do, this is the single biggest investigation in the history of the seed program at ODA,” says ODA Director Alexis Taylor. “The findings in this case are a real game changer in the industry and have national significance. Our federal partners have developed new testing methods that can identify K31 and distinguish it from other tall fescue varieties. ODA could not have done this without the support and cooperation of Oregon’s seed industry.”
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