All importers of seed need to make sure they are following the law, writes Federated Farmers Arable Industry Group chairwoman Karen Williams.

This is a public plea born out of a chat on a plane with a concerned importer.

If you enjoy drinking New Zealand wine, eating New Zealand produce and living in a community with basic infrastructure like roads and hospitals, please make sure your imported seeds or posted goods have met the requirements for entry to the country.

I know people are very proud of their gardens and some people want to grow new and exotic species, but it has become clear not all people importing seeds are aware of the legislation that regulates this behaviour.

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All importers of seed need to make sure they are following the law, this includes companies and home gardeners.

The law relating to the importation of seed is grounded in the Biosecurity Act 1993 and associated Import Health Standards [IHS]. For anyone importing seeds, the IHS (Seeds for Sowing) applies to seeds imported by anyone from any other country.

It is the importer's responsibility to ensure the requirements of the IHS are met. Ignorance of the law cannot be used as a defence.

Federated Farmers wants you to be aware of your obligations so you can avoid putting our country at risk, avoid the guilt of importing an unwanted pest and a hefty fine.

Biosecurity incursions cost the country millions of dollars and have a significant detrimental impact on the industry affected.

To minimise New Zealand's biosecurity risk and your potential liability, always buy from a reputable store or if you would prefer to import your seeds directly you must go through the correct biosecurity procedures. If you have any questions, please contact MPI.

If you see something that shouldn't be growing in your garden, contact MPI's Weeds, Pests and Disease hotline (0800 80 99 66) and let them investigate.

Just remember if you are purposefully operating outside of the law this is where biosecurity breaches happen and you can be held financially responsible for any consequence.

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