State agriculture officials are reminding farmers to take another look at their equipment this fall to make sure treated seeds stay out of their harvest.
Seeds treated with pesticide or fungicide are specifically designed to be planted in the spring and are very brightly colored to make sure they can’t be confused with regular grains or vegetables. Federal law requires they stay out of the food supply, and Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection spokeswoman Donna Gilson says there is a zero tolerance policy. “If as the load is being dumped into a storage bin and you see the treated seeds, that entire bin gets condemned. And again, the farmer can be held liable for that and that can certainly be enough to bankrupt someone.”
Gilson says the best practices on farms should be keeping that seed as far as possible from your harvest. “If you have any unused treated seed around, check with the supplier to see if you can return left over seeds, or dispose of any unused seeds. If you have to store it, keep it separate from all your grains.”
Gilson says farmers should check equipment carefully before heading out to harvest. “They should use a pressure washer, and clean out all the equipment they used for treated seeds. That includes gravity boxes, trucks, wagons. Visually inspect them and look for any of those bright colored seeds.”
Gilson says farmers should also make sure to go over any equipment they may be borrowing.