MIAMI—In the weeks leading to Valentine's Day, U.S. Customs and Border Protection's highly trained agriculture specialists are ensuring that plant diseases and plant pests are detected and prevented from being introduced into the United States where they could cause harm.
Director Field Operations, Miami Field Office Vernon Foret stated that "Cut flower importations into Miami International Airport continue to grow in volume and represents a significant portion of trade in South Florida. CBP in Miami is committed to facilitating the movement of these flowers to market while ensuring the interception of pests and the protection of American agriculture."
CBP agriculture specialists are the front line in the fight against the introduction of harmful insects and diseases into the United States. CBP processed approximately 802.5 million cut flower stems during the 2011 Valentine's season from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14, compared to 320.8 million stems processed during the 2010 season -- an increase of 150 percent. Most of the cut flower shipments are imported from South America, primarily Colombia, with 502.1 million stems or 63 percent, followed by Ecuador with 187 million stems or 23 percent.
Miami ranks first among U.S. ports of entry for shipments of cut flower imports, followed by Los Angeles. The quantity of imported cut flowers processed by both ports during the 2011 Valentine's season has more than doubled compared to 2010 season.
During calendar year 2011, CBP processed approximately 5.1 billion cut flower stems and Miami alone processed 4.3 billion stems.
During the 2011 Valentine's season:
- CBP in Miami processed approximately 673 million stems, or 84 percent of the total imported cut flowers nationally, compared to 272 million stems imported during last year's season. Los Angeles has ranked second by processing 38.2 million flower stems during the 2011 Valentine's season, compared to 17.4 million stems imported during last year's season.
- Approximately 477 million cut flower stems imported from Colombia were processed in Miami, where the top cut flower imports are Roses, mixed bouquets, and Dianthus.
- The imported cut flowers inspection process resulted in a total of 3,404 pest interceptions nationally. Miami intercepted 1662 pests, followed by Otay Mesa with 377 pests.
- 1176 pests (35%) were intercepted from Colombia and 866 (25%) were intercepted from Ecuador.
- The most common type of insects intercepted in these cut flower imports are Thrips (Thripidae), Moths (Noctuidae), Aphididae (Aphids), and Miner Flies (Agromyzidae)
Photographs, facts and figures about CBP inspection of imported cut flowers are available on the CBP Web site.