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CBP Agriculture Specialists at Miami International Airport Expect to Process a Billion Imported Flowers Ahead of Valentine’s Day

Release Date: 
February 11, 2019

CBP agriculture specialists inspecting cut flower imports before Valentine's Day.
CBP agriculture specialists inspecting
cut flower imports before Valentine's Day.

MIAMI - In the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, teams of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists at Miami International Airport (MIA) expect to process more than a billion cut flower imports—serving as an ever-vigilant front line of defense against dangerous pests and plant diseases. While a relatively small number of harmful pests are found among the hundreds of millions of stems inspected each week ahead Valentine’s Day, a single dangerous pest can cause significant damage to our nation’s crops.

During the 2018 Valentine’s Day season, CBP at Miami International Airport processed approximately 1.3 billion stems, or 90.6 percent of the total imported cut flowers nationally, compared to 965 million stems the year prior. Los Angeles ranked second processing 55.6 million flower stems during the 2018 Valentine’s season, compared to 40.7 million stems imported during the previous year. 

“A single microscopic pest can slip in and cause millions of dollars’ worth of damage,” said CBP Miami International Airport Port Director Christopher Maston. “Inspection of cut flower imports during a peak period such as Valentine’s Day is a non-stop mission and CBP’s workforce demonstrates extraordinary commitment to safeguard American agriculture by stopping destructive pests.”

CBP Flower Inspections – 2018 Valentine’s Season

CBP processed approximately 1.4 billion cut flower stems during the 2018 Valentine’s season from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14, compared to 1.09 billion stems processed during the 2017 season -- an increase of 33 percent. Most of the cut flower shipments are imported from South America, primarily Colombia, with 1.08 billion stems or 74.5 percent, followed by Ecuador with 262 million stems or 18.1 percent. 

Top 10 ports of entry, by volume (number of stems), that processed shipments of cut flower imports for the 2018 Valentine’s season: 
 

Location Quantity in Stems
FL Miami Air Cargo CBP 1,309,239,386
CA Los Angeles CBP 55,699,304
NY JFK Air Cargo CBP 20,770,566
CA Otay Mesa CBP 20,745,413
TX Laredo 9,235,612
FL Port Everglades 7,945,412
MA Boston CBP 3,114,837
HI Honolulu 2,043,141
TX Hidalgo 1,812,366
CA San Diego 1,793,033

Top 10 Exporting Country of Origin for the 2018 Valentine’s season:

Country of Origin Stems
Colombia 1,078,399,946
Ecuador 262,238,606
Mexico 33,152,123
Netherlands 22,235,401
Costa Rica 10,148,042
Guatemala 8,850,696
Thailand 8,327,664
Kenya 4,590,748
India 2,746,027
Ethiopia 2,582,339

Download footage and imagery of cut flower inspections through the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) and CBP Flickr.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection operations in Florida include travel and trade facilitation and securing over 1,200 miles of the coastal border. To follow the latest updates from CBP across Florida, add @CBPFlorida on Twitter.

Last modified: 
February 12, 2019