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Bug Free Flower Imports for Your Sweetheart on Valentine's Day

Release Date: 
February 2, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C.—As Valentine's Day approaches, U.S. Customs and Border Protection flower inspection increases as hundreds of millions of flowers are imported into the U.S. for the season. At ports of entry, CBP agriculture specialists ensure that plant pests and plant diseases are detected and prevented from being introduced into the U.S. where they could cause harm to our flower industry, our agriculture and our economy.

"CBP agriculture specialists are on the frontline, protecting U.S. agriculture and natural resources from foreign origin plant pests and diseases at our nation's borders," said Kevin Harriger, executive director for CBP's Agriculture Programs and Trade Liaison office. "CBP also facilitates the processing of trade to ensure global economic competitiveness."

During the 2011 Valentine's Day season from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14, CBP agriculture specialists prevented the entry of 3,400 plant pests hitchhiking on cut flower imports.

CBP processed approximately 802.5 million cut flower stems 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 processing 84 percent of the total imported cut flowers for the season, followed by Los Angeles. The quantity of imported cut flowers processed by both ports during the 2011 Valentine's Day season has more than doubled compared to 2010 season.

The top 10 ports of entry, by volume of cut flower imports processed are: Miami; Los Angeles; New York; Laredo, Texas; Otay Mesa, Calif.; Chicago; Newark, N.J.; Boston; Wilmington, Del; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

In fiscal year 2011, CBP agriculture specialists logged nearly 200,000 insect and disease interceptions.

To visit a top 10 port for flower imports, please contact the press officer or the public affairs liaison assigned to that area. Their contact information is available by state at the State Listings Web site.

Photographs, facts and figures about CBP inspection of imported cut flowers are available on the CBP Web site.

B-roll video of imported cut flower inspection during the Valentine's Day season can be found on the DVIDS service site.