Plant Protection Unit
The horticultural industry is very important to Alabama’s economy, contributing millions of dollars in cash receipts annually. It stands as the second largest agricultural commodity in the state and is growing rapidly. The Plant Protection Unit is responsible for inspecting and licensing live plant growers and live plant dealers, (including florists and landscapers), and regulating all horticultural and agronomic products.
The Plant Protection Unit issues permits for moving live plants out of Alabama and provides plant insect and disease information to commercial operators and homeowners.
This unit is responsible for inspecting and licensing all plant growers and dealers in Alabama to ensure that plants for sale are properly maintained, healthy, and free from insect, disease, and weed pests. We also investigate to ensure that Federally Listed Noxious Weeds and State Listed Noxious Weeds are not being sold in Alabama.
The Plant Protection Unit consists of plant protection specialists (field agents) who receive intensive training in recognizing plant pests and diseases. They are responsible for inspecting thousands of nursery growers and nursery stock dealers, for servicing a network of thousands of insect traps, performing numerous survey activities, and for certifying plants for movement intrastate, interstate, and abroad.
The Plant Protection Unit office staff prepares certification, registration, or permits for nursery dealers and/or permits for nursery growers of plant material and explains the laws, rules, and regulations. We check for proper licenses, permits and registration of dealers and growers in business. We investigate any alleged violations and interview the dealer or grower to verify the misuse.
The Plant Protection Unit is authorized to issue both Federal and State Phytosanitary Certificates. Phytosanitary Certificates are essentially permits for moving live plants or plant products out of Alabama. These permits certify that the plants or plant products are insect and/or disease free and meet the requirements for legal entry into another state or foreign country. These permits are often required because there may be insects, diseases, or noxious plants that may occur in Alabama but not in other states or countries. Some states, primarily the Western states, require all houseplants to be inspected by this office before they are allowed across their respective borders.
The Plant Protection Unit has the ability to impose a quarantine to halt the spread of plant pests in the U.S. In order to ship products out of the quarantine area, nurseries must comply with federal and state guidelines, including treating plant stock with insecticides and maintenance of areas where plant stock is grown. An example of one of these quarantines is the Federal Fire Ant Quarantine. Our office may issue Federal Fire Ant Stamps to nurseries that have satisfied the requirements of the quarantine. These stamps allow nurseries to ship plant products out of the fire ant quarantine area.