FWS Communication Corrects Record on 2007 Ginseng Harvest from Kentucky

(July 3, 2007, Silver Spring, MD) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has clarified that “there has been no decision” by that agency to suspend exports of wild American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) harvested in the state of Kentucky, and that no such decision is currently pending.

This communication came in the form of a letter from FWS dated June 28, 2007, and addressed to AHPA President Michael McGuffin. It was signed by Robert R. Gabel, Chief of the Division of Management Authority at FWS. The Management Authority is authorized to approve legally obtained ginseng for export from the 19 states – including Kentucky – that participate in the U.S. ginseng program.

The letter was provided to offset the false impression that “Feds could bar Kentucky from exporting ginseng” that was given by an Associated Press (AP) article that was published broadly in the United States and in Asia starting on June 15, 2007. The AP article highlighted a recent sting operation in which ginseng dealers in Kentucky were solicited to purchase wild ginseng out of season.

“It is good to know that the U.S. government has not decided to punish the many law-abiding ginseng collectors and dealers in Kentucky for infractions committed by others, and I appreciate the prompt effort by FWS to correct the record,” commented McGuffin of AHPA.

The letter from Gabel also noted that the law enforcement actions that were the subject of the AP article, “certainly revealed some deficiencies in the way that Kentucky implements its ginseng program.” He went on to say, however, that his impressions are “that things are moving in a positive direction, and it is unlikely that we would suspend exports of ginseng from Kentucky as long as appropriate measures are being taken to improve the program.”

“AHPA will continue to work with state and federal regulators to protect responsible and sustainable trade in American ginseng,” added McGuffin. “We look forward to further cooperation with Kentucky officials to make the ginseng program in that state more effective.”

Gabel’s letter to McGuffin is posted on the AHPA website at http://www.ahpa.org/portals/0/pdfs/07_0628_RGabel_APReply.pdf. The AP article can be found at http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/06/17/business/NA-FIN-US-Ginseng-Exports.php.


The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is the only national trade association devoted to herbal issues. Representing the core of the botanical trade—comprised of the finest growers, processors, manufacturers and marketers of herbal products—our mission is to promote the responsible commerce of herbal products. AHPA committees generate self-regulations to ensure the highest level of quality with respect to the way herbal products are manufactured, labeled, and sold. Website: www.ahpa.org.

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