MIAMI—In the weeks leading to Valentine’s Day, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) highly trained agriculture specialists inspect millions of cut flower imports because some of these flowers may carry hitchhiking pests and diseases that could cause millions of dollars in damage to the U.S. flower industry.
Valentine’s Day at Miami International Airport is one of the most demanding times of the year for CBP agriculture specialists who ensure that flower bouquets are free from pests.
“CBP’s agriculture specialists are the frontline in the fight against the introduction of harmful insects and diseases into the United States," said CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “While the majority of flowers entering the country are safe, even one hitchhiking pest can cause significant damage to American agriculture. CBP, in partnership with industry partners, is committed to facilitating the movement of these flowers while ensuring the interception of any hitchhiking pests to protect American agriculture.”
CBP processed approximately 801.1 million cut flower stems nationally during the 2014 Valentine’s season from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14, compared to 867.2 million stems processed during the 2013 season -- a decrease of 7.6 percent. Most of the cut flower shipments are imported from South America, primarily Colombia followed by Ecuador.
During the 2014 Valentine’s season:
CBP agriculture specialists in Miami processed approximately 87 percent of the total imported cut flowers nationally; Los Angeles ranked second.
The top cut flower imports processed in Miami consist of roses, mixed bouquets, and Dianthus.
The imported cut flowers inspection process resulted in 2,737 pest interceptions nationally. Miami intercepted 1,422 pests, followed by Los Angeles with 383 pests.
The most common type of insects intercepted in these cut flower imports are Tetranychus sp. (mites), Aphididae (Aphids), Agromyzidae (Miner Flies) and Noctuidae (moths).
Photographs, facts and figures about CBP inspection of imported cut flowers are available on the CBP webpage: Cut Flower Imports.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.