Potential Revisions to Ginseng Harvest Regulations

Ginseng harvest in Missouri has declined in recent years. There is concern that this trend is due to overharvest. If the trend continues, the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) may no longer allow Missouri ginseng to be sold to other countries. 

The following regulation changes are being considered to ensure that Missouri ginseng harvests will be sustainable through the future. 

MDC may require permits:

             $20 Resident Ginseng Harvest Permit

             $150 Non-resident Ginseng Harvest Permit

             $200 Ginseng Dealer Permit

WHY? To provide better information about how much ginseng is being harvested and to improve the enforcement of harvest regulations. 

Harvest permits will: 

  • Provide information about how many people harvest ginseng and where harvest is occurring. 
  • Improve the accuracy of harvest records. 
  • Increase accountability of all who harvest or sell ginseng.
  • Allow for direct communication between MDC and people who harvest ginseng.

Currently, ginseng dealers in Missouri are required to register with MDC and provide quarterly reports of all ginseng transactions and annual inventory reports. This information is required by the USFWS before Missouri-harvested ginseng can be allowed to leave the US. Current regulations have resulted in challenges with enforcing the Wildlife Code of Missouri

Permit fees to harvest and deal (buy for resale) ginseng provide funding support and  improve enforcement of state and federal regulations. Permits will also provide needed information for setting regulations that will ensure ginseng can be harvested in the future.

Bar graph showing ginseng harvest (as pounds of dried root) in Missouri from 1995 to 2018.
The amount of ginseng harvested in Missouri has been declining over the last 23 years. 2017 and 2018 had the lowest harvest. This decline is despite the increasing national average price per pound shown by the blue line. A decline in harvest when prices are high indicates that ginseng is being overharvested or that harvest is underreported.

 

Harvest regulations would be consistent for both wild ginseng and ginseng propagated from the wild. 

WHY? Roots harvested from planted ginseng known as “woods grown” or “wild simulated” cannot be distinguished from wild roots. As nearly all Missouri-harvested ginseng is reported as wild, this regulation change will have little to no impact to the industry and this change will simplify harvest regulations.

Seed collection would be permitted with the landowner’s consent if the plant is not being harvested.

WHY? Seed collection is not currently allowed in the Wildlife Code of Missouri, yet this activity may enhance populations of wild ginseng while also providing some income for private landowners who are interested in selling ginseng seed.

Ginseng is a long-lived perennial species. Unlike harvesting the roots, collecting seed does not harm the plant. Planting seeds nearby and in a similar habitat can improve chances of germination since seeds will be in contact with bare soil and less likely to be eaten by animals.

A certification of origin form would be required for all ginseng brought into Missouri from another state.

WHY? Other states already require harvested ginseng to have a certification of origin form prior to export. If harvested ginseng brought to Missouri has not been certified, it’s in violation of regulations enforced by other states. 

POTENTIAL CHANGES RELATED TO THE BUYING AND SELLING OF GINSENG

Out-of-state dealers would be required to have a Missouri Dealer License to purchase and sell ginseng from Missouri.

WHY? Currently only ginseng dealers with a Missouri business address are required to have a Missouri Dealer License. Allowing dealers registered in other states to buy and sell ginseng in Missouri without a license gives them an unfair advantage. Additionally, with no requirement to report quarterly transactions and inventory, they are not accountable for ginseng purchased and sold in Missouri.

Ginseng root would need to be certified before being sold by a ginseng dealer.

WHY? Uncertified root bought and sold between dealers leads to double reporting because it is impossible to know if the ginseng has already been reported or not. This double reporting creates inaccurate harvest totals. Certification numbers with each batch of ginseng sold and bought between dealers will ensure that each batch is counted only once.

Certification of Origin (i.e., certification slips) would be issued only for specific and indivisible weights.

WHY? According to USDA/APHIS regulations, all ginseng root leaving the US must be accompanied by a valid certification of origin form. When certified batches of ginseng are divided, the certification of origin form no longer reflects the amount of ginseng it accompanies, and portions of the batch end up with an invalid photocopy of the certification of origin form. 

MDC would collect a minimum certification fee of $25 for up to 10 pounds, with $2.50 per pound thereafter.

WHY? An increase in the number of online sales for small amounts of ginseng and higher market values for green (wet) root have led to an increase in certification requests. In addition, imposed restrictions on divisible certification weights and dealer-to-dealer transactions will lead to more requests. The certification fee will fund the time and travel of the conservation agent to process the certifications. 

Bar graph showing number of requests for ginseng certification of origin forms by size class made each year from 1995 to 2018.
This graph shows the number of ginseng certification of origin forms issued by MDC agents from 1995 to 2018. Yellow bars show the total number of certification requests, red bars show the number for less than 1 pound, purple bars show the number for less than 4 oz. Certification of smaller amounts rose in 2017 and 2018, despite the lower harvests.

 

MDC may require the reporting of transactions and inventory to be done online.

WHY? To improve accuracy and make the reporting process faster and easier, and to reduce the use of paper. 

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