The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) will require importers of earthworms to obtain a PPQ 526 pest permit starting July 1, 2022. The permits are required to import powdered, frozen, or freeze-dried earthworms, their castings, and related products into the U.S. from any country. Imports of earthworms for environmental release in the U.S. will only be issued for earthworms from countries free from foot-and-mouth disease.
There are strict conditions that must be followed related to the rearing and shipping of earthworms. Here are some of the permit requirements:
- Earthworms must be reared on a diet free of soil or bedding containing pathogens. The diet may contain paper pulp, sawdust, or pasteurized vegetables (vegetables that have been held at a temperature of 180°F (83⁰C) for a minimum of 30 minutes).
- At least 15 days prior to shipment, all imported earthworms must be placed on a cleansing diet that is free of any materials that may contain plant or animal pathogens.
- At no time during the rearing or packaging process are earthworms to be fed soil, uncooked or partially cooked vegetables.
- At all times during the rearing operation, worms must be kept separated from the ground by a heavy layer of plastic, fiberglass, metal, or other material that is not biodegradable.
The domestic movement of earthworms within the U.S. does not require a permit, but it may be necessary to move to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and U.S. Territories. In addition to the PPQ permit, importers will still need to comply with all regulations of other State and Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Please see the APHIS Earthworm website for additional information and FAQs related to the application process for the importation of earthworms.