ATLANTA --- In the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) highly-trained agriculture specialists across the country inspect hundreds of thousands of cut-stem flower imports to ensure that your loved one’s bouquet is free of plant diseases and dangerous and invasive insects. Plant diseases and insect pests pose potential harm to U.S. agriculture industries and threaten our nation’s economy.
CBP agriculture specialists at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), the busiest airport in the world, prepare for Valentine’s Day in early January when the increase of cut flower shipments begin arriving from overseas, mostly from South America.
"CBP Agriculture inspections are a crucial part of the examination process for flowers and plants coming into our country," said Diedra Duke, Chief Agriculture Specialist for Port of Atlanta. “We are the first line of defense in protecting our country from harmful foreign pests and diseases that could enter the country on flowers destined for someone’s home or workplace, and that could harm domestic crops if introduced.”
Historically, Valentine’s Day is the second busiest time for cut flower importations, behind only Mother’s Day.
During the 2015 Valentine’s Day season (Jan. 1 - Feb. 14), CBP agriculture specialists at ATL processed over 115,000 flower stems, a spike from 62,000 in 2014. Nationally, CBP agriculture specialists inspected and processed approximately 976 million cut flower stems, a 21 percent increase over 2014 when CBP processed 801 million stems.
If CBP intercepts insects, pests, or diseases, the shipment of flowers is either fumigated, re-exported, or destroyed.
Click on CBP Valentine’s Day Flower Inspections to see stats from last year’s “peak” inspection season, and to download still photos and video of CBP flower inspections.
CBP Agriculture Specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection. On a typical day nationally, they inspect over 1 million people as well as air and sea cargo imported to the United States and intercept 4,447 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 425 agriculture pests and diseases.
To learn more, click on CBP agriculture protection mission.
CBP continues its work in enabling legitimate trade, contributing to the American economic prosperity, and protecting against risks to public health and safety. Learn more at Protecting Agriculture.