As farmers across the United States drive to finish planting, it’s important to properly handle or dispose of any remaining or leftover treated seed.

The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) encourages farmers who have leftover seed to contact their seed company or dealer to find out about their policies and how to properly dispose of treated seed.

Seed treatments are increasing in popularity, but it is illegal for treated seeds to be in the grain supply, says Andy LaVigne, ASTA president and chief executive officer.

“Some companies will accept returns of treated seeds or help you store them until next year, while other companies have guidelines on how to properly dispose of them,” LaVigne says. “It’s best to keep the lines of communication open and follow protocol to prevent treated seeds from entering the grain trade.”

Given that seed today can act as the delivery mechanism for pest management products, it’s imperative that treated seed not be mixed with grain, explains LaVigne.

LaVigne is joined by many U.S. agriculture stakeholder organizations like the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA), American Soybean Association (ASA), and National Grain and Feed Association to encourage appropriate handling by all of any remaining seed that doesn’t get planted.

“We are all experiencing a growing concern for food safety,” says Gary Anderson of CHS, Inc., and NAEGA chairman. “It’s critical that farmers and the rest of the supply chain follow industry guidelines to ensure a safe supply of grains and oilseeds, and maintain our reputation as a supplier of high quality agricultural products.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, last year the United States exported 1.9 billion bushels of corn and 1.5 billion bushels of soybeans. At $3.83 per bushel for corn and $9.97 per bushel for soybeans, the export market put more than $21 billion in the pockets of U.S. farmers during the 2010 marketing year.