What does the Seed Program do for you?

This program provides licenses to seed dealers in Montana in order to assure consumers that seed offered for sale in Montana are truthfully labeled for identity, purity and viability.

The following are the seeds included in this program:

  • Grass seed;
  • Forage seed;
  • Cereal seed;
  • Lawn seed;
  • Fiber crops seed;
  • Mixtures of seed; and
  • Any other kinds of seed commonly recognized within the state as agricultural seeds.

How does the Seed Program ensure seed quality?

The Seed Program provides statewide regulatory services to the general public and specific agricultural industries. The program conducts inspections of seed facilities to assure compliance with licensing and labeling requirements, obtains random seed samples and submits them to the Montana State University’s Seed Testing Laboratory in Bozeman for analysis.

The laboratory analyzes the samples for the following:

  • Purity;
  • Germination;
  • Noxious weed seeds;
  • Restricted weed seeds;
  • Total weed seed content; and
  • Seed from other crops.

The program then compares the results with the label to verify if the seed is within accepted tolerances and reports the result to the labeler.

All seed products must have proper and accurate labeling. If there are any problems the labeler will be contacted for resolution.

Who needs a Seed Dealer License?

A seed dealer license is required for the following:

  • Any seed dealer distributing seed in Montana
  • Any person whose name appears on the label as a seed labeler
  • Any facility that conditions seed
  • Any Montana producer selling their own production with a gross annual sales value of more than $5,000

Review the licensing exemptions at the backside of the Seed Dealer License application form.

Download a
Sample Seed Label (.doc)

Seed Dealer Licensing

  • Any person who sells and or labels seed that he or she produces, and has gross annual sales of $5,000.00 or more, shall obtain a Montana seed growers license.
  • Any person whose name and address appear on the label of agricultural seed sold in Montana shall obtain a seed labeler's license before doing business in Montana.
  • Any person who sells agricultural seed in Montana shall obtain a seed dealer's license from the department for each place where seed is located or sold.
  • Any person who sells and or labels seed that he or she produces, and has gross annual sales of $5,000.00 or more, shall obtain a Montana seed growers license.

Licenses are issued annually with renewal on July 1st each year.

Annual Assessment of out of State Seed Labelers Sales

Seed labelers located outside Montana who sell agricultural seed in Montana shall report those sales and pay an assessment fee per $100 gross annual sales of agricultural seed. These assessments are due to the department 30 days after the licensing period ending.

Click Here for Video Instructions
on How to Add a Seed Assessment
Using the Online MTPlants System



Annual Dealer License Fees:

  • $75.00 - Montana Seed Dealer
  • $130.00 - Non-Resident Seed Dealer
  • $75.00 - Montana or Non-Resident Labeler whose company name & address appears on the seed label
  • $75.00 - A facility (permanent or portable) that conditions seed for sale
  • $75.00 - A Montana producer selling more than $5,000 worth of seed he/she produced on his/her farm

Seed Annual Inspection fee:

  • $0.25 per $100.00 gross annual sales

Plant Variety Protection Act

The Plant Variety Protection Act was signed into federal law on December 24, 1970. The law allows the developer and owner of a new distinct seed variety to obtain property rights protection if the variety meets certain requirements. The act was amended by Congress in 1994. A Certificate of Protection is valid for 20 years and excludes others from selling, reproducing, importing, exporting or using the protected variety in the production of a hybrid or another variety during this time without the permission of the owner. The owner is responsible for enforcing these rights.

Types of Protection

Plant Variety Protected (PVP)
The developer and owner of the variety have the exclusive right to control the production and marketing of their varieties. The developer and owner of the variety may sell either certified or uncertified seed of the PVP variety. Growers cannot produce or sell seed of a protected variety without the permission of the developer. Growers who acquired the protected variety legally may save seed for use on their own farm, but cannot sell their production for planting purposes without the permission of the PVP variety owner.

Plant Variety Protected – Title V Option
If the developer and owner of the variety elect the PVP Title V option, seed of these varieties must be sold as a class of certified seed. All seed offered for sale that has PVP Title V protection must be certified seed. No common seed sale of these varieties is allowed. Growers who acquire the protected variety with Title V legally have the right to save seed for use on their own farm, but cannot sell their production for planting purposes without permission of the variety owner.

How can seed dealers, seed conditioners, and growers protect themselves from violating the PVP Act?

Seed Dealers
It is the responsibility of the seller of a PVP variety to inform the buyer if the variety is protected. Each container of seed sold should be labeled with a tag indicating the type of protection the variety has been granted. A seed dealer or producer should never buy PVP Title V varieties without evidence that the seed is certified.

Seed Conditioners
Conditioners may be held liable for cleaning seed of PVP varieties intended for sale as seed if the owner's permission is not given. Conditioning should be limited to the amount of seed needed to plant a farmer's own holdings. Conditioners should make everyone for whom they are conditioning seed sign a document or waiver stating the variety of the seed and if the variety is protected; growers should attest that the seed being conditioned will not be sold to others for planting purposes and will be used only on their own farm. If a conditioner suspects illegal sales, they should contact the owner of the protected variety, or they may contact the Montana Department of Agriculture.

Producers who grow PVP protected varieties may only save enough of their own production for planting purposes on their own farm. No one should ever purchase so-called "brown bagged" seed. If the seller does not provide a label with the seed, that may be an indication that the seed is illegal. Know the varieties you are planting, and know if the varieties are protected. If you suspect someone of selling "brown bagged" seed, contact the owner of the protected variety or the Montana Department of Agriculture.

What role does Montana Department of Agriculture have in PVP Act?

Owners of protected varieties are responsible for enforcing their rights and may seek compensation for up to three times the damages plus court costs and attorney fees on seed sold. Damages also may be sought for crops produced from illegally planted seed. In accordance to Section 80-5-133, Montana Code Annotated, the department may investigate suspected PVP violations and pursue civil penalties. Enforcement and conviction of PVP Act violations is dependent upon solid evidence. The department encourages those who know of PVP Act violations to submit a written complaint to the department.

A list of PVP protected varieties may be obtained from the national Plant Variety Protection website. This site is a resource for checking PVP status. Interested parties should contact the variety owner to verify PVP protection.

Visit the Plant Variety Protection website from USDA for more information.

Contact the Montana Department of Agriculture for additional information on the PVP Act and Montana Seed Law.

Seed Potato Inspection Program

The Department is required to conduct shipping point inspections on all seed potatoes grown in Montana in accordance with Section 80-3-315, MCA of the Montana Produce Act. Tubers must meet the Montana Blue or Red Tag Grade at shipping to complete the certification process and be Montana Certified Seed Potatoes.

For the completed listing of the field inspection and disease requirements required to pass certification, contact the Montana Potato Lab at (406) 994-3150.

Shipping point inspections arrangements can be made by contacting the program specialist down below under Contacts or the appropriate Agricultural Specialist in your area. (View the Field Staff page for contact information.) For export of seed potatoes to other countries, further field, cellar, laboratory testing and shipping point inspections maybe be required.

Grade inspection shipping point fees for potatoes are $0.095 per 100 pounds or a minimum of $50 for each inspection visit. Shipping of potatoes into Montana may be subject to quarantine requirements.

In the Spotlight

Why can't I order seed potatoes from some garden catalogs or websites?
Montana is the leading producer of seed potatoes that are planted in the Columbia Basin for processing into French fries and other food products. The state's potatoes are prized because its growing areas are somewhat isolated from airborne spores of diseases such as late blight. To protect this industry, Montana requires businesses that sell seed potatoes in Montana have them inspected at the point of shipping and certified as disease-free. Businesses unwilling to take those steps are prohibited from shipping to Montana, including sellers of garden seed that could spread potato diseases.

Some wildflower seed mixes also are prohibited in Montana, including ones that contain oxeye daisy. And, certain landscape plants are prohibited because they spread in the wild and crowd out native species.

Montana State Seed Laboratory

The Montana State Seed Laboratory in Bozeman, tests seed samples for producers, the Montana Seed Growers Association, the Montana Department of Agriculture, and the seed industry. Seed testing determines the percentages of pure seed, other crop seed, weed seed, inert matter and germination for seeds to be used for planting. For more information about the Montana State Seed Testing Laboratory, please refer to their website at:

Seed Program News

USDA Investigates Packages of Unsolicited Seeds from China

USDA Investigates Packages of Unsolicited Seeds from China

USDA is aware that people across the country have received suspicious, unsolicited packages of seed that appear to be coming from China. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, other federal agencies, and State departments of agriculture to investigate the situation.

MDA Asks Public to Report Receipt of any Unsolicited Packages of Seeds

Call (406) 444-3950 to report unsolicited seed packages

MDA Asks Public to Report Receipt of any Unsolicited Packages of Seeds

 Helena, Mont. – The Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) has received multiple reports from Montana residents that have received unsolicited packages containing seeds that appear to have been shipped from China. Individuals are urged to contact the department if they receive a package matching this description. Please contact the Seed Program at (406) 444-3950 or bballensky@mt.gov.  

Documents to download

Governor Bullock Increases Capacity to Transport Critical Supplies

Ability of commercial motor carrier vehicles to ensure a supply of food, medical supplies, farm inputs and feed and hay during the COVID-19 emergency increased

Governor Bullock Increases Capacity to Transport Critical Supplies

MONTANA – Governor Steve Bullock today implemented actions to increase the ability of commercial motor carrier vehicles to ensure a supply of food, medical supplies, farm inputs and feed and hay during the COVID-19 emergency.

The Directive is not in response to shortages of food supplies. Montana’s food supply chain is essential and state and federal food safety inspectors are on the job. Additionally, licensed food manufacturers are operating and plan to continue operating at or above capacity. At this time, any shortages of food observed in grocery stores is temporary.

“By creating some flexibility for transport and deliveries during this challenging time, we can ensure Montana’s supply chain remains strong and food and medical supplies can get where they’re needed most without delay,” Governor Bullock said.


Documents to download

Bob Ballensky
Seed and Commodity Dealer / Warehouse Program Manager

Phone (Office) : (406) 444-3950
Phone (Cell) : (208) 738-8920
E-mail : BBallensky@mt.gov
302 N Roberts
Helena, MT 59601

Larry Krum
Anhydrous Ammonia / Seed Potato/ Produce Program Manager

Phone: (406) 444-5419
E-mail: LKrum@mt.gov
Fax: (406) 444-9493
302 N Roberts
Helena, MT 59601

Seed Program Forms & Files

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