The National Seed Health System (NSHS) enables non-government agencies such as seed companies to carry out seed health testing, field inspections, and seed sampling necessary to obtain phytosanitary certificates. This can have major logistical benefits in eliminating delays in the process of shipping seed lots.

The Seed Health Accreditation Manager is an appointee of the United States Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Protection Service (USDA-APHIS) and maintains oversight functions of the accredited portion of the National Seed Health System (NSHS) on behalf of the Administrator of APHIS. The Seed Health Accreditation Manager, will act as an ex-officio member of the Policy and Procedures Advisory Board (PPAB) of the NSHS.

This is a long established group of state and USDA plant health officials providing program review of pest management programs within the USA. The responsibilities of this team are to:

  • Provide the Accreditation Manager with policy coordination, reviews and recommendations;
  • Review provisions of the accreditation system on behalf of the Accreditation Manager and;
  • Resolve issues of regulatory procedures to assure the integrity of the accreditation system.

Comprises 8 members that represent the major stakeholders in the NSHS. The PPAB will act as the primary body giving direction to the NSHS. The PPAB will contain a member each from the National Plant Board (NPB), the American Association of Seed Control Officials (AASCO), the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA) and three members from the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA). The director(s) of the Administrative Unit(s) and the Administrator of APHIS (or his designee) will participate as ex-officio members of the PPAB.

PPAB duties include:

  • Development of policy and panels for the NSHS.
  • To provide technical expertise and information that is deemed necessary for the Accreditation Manager to effectively administer the system.
  • To develop technical panels of public and private experts to provide sound scientific support and integrity of procedures, protocols for the accreditation system.

Current PPAB Members

Technical Panels shall be chosen from a pool of ‘qualified experts’ based on their area of expertise to serve as volunteers to review existing and propose new seed health testing and field inspection methodologies. The experts will be drawn from the private and public sectors both nationally and internationally and will be approved by the PPAB. The PPAB shall also review the results and recommendations of Technical Panels and forward them to the Administrator for approval. Following APHIS approval, these results will be included in Reference Manual B for official use in phytosanitary certification.

Technical Panel Peer Review Procedure for Laboratory Seed Health

NSHS Methods & Codes List

Administration Unit (s) are designated by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) from APHIS to organize and implement the Accreditation System on behalf of USDA-APHIS. They will manage the day-to-day activities of the accredited as follows:

  • Receive and process applications from entities wishing to become accredited.
  • Schedule and coordinate the accreditation audits with the applicants.
  • Coordinate and conduct appropriate training sessions and workshops in the appropriate areas of plant health for applicant entities.
  • Carry out proficiency testing as part of the ongoing audit and surveillance program.
  • Be the official “record keeper” of the system and shall maintain the controlled versions of all reference materials including the standardized test and inspection methodologies.
  • Engage in test/inspection standardization and development.
  • Make provision for the testing of “minor use” crops.
  • Collect and organize the relevant body of scientific information for review and consideration by the Technical Panels.