EL PASO, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists working at El Paso area ports of entry are busy this week making sure that personal and commercial importations of Mother’s Day flowers are free from insects, pests and diseases that could harm the agricultural and floral industries of the United States. Mother’s Day is observed in Mexico on Wednesday, May 10. The U.S. observance is Sunday, May 14.
“This is always a busy week for CBP agriculture specialists. Typically we note an increase in the number of floral imports arriving at area ports of entry,” said Hector Mancha, CBP Director of Field Operations in El Paso. “Vigilant CBP agriculture specialists are hard at work making certain that any imported floral arrangements are free from insects, pests or disease.”
CBP strongly encourages the public to consult the CBP website before they import floral arrangements so they know which flowers are permissible and which are prohibited or restricted. CBP suggests those who plan to import flowers and plants from Mexico to advise their florist that the arrangements are destined for U.S. delivery. Some flowers and plant materials commonly found in floral arrangements at southwest border ports of entry are prohibited. Those include gladiolas, chrysanthemums and choysia (a floral filler) due to pest risk.
While a relatively small number of harmful pests are found among the millions of stems inspected by CBP, a single dangerous pest could cause millions of dollars of damage to our nation’s crops. CBP recommends that people who wish to import flowers, plant materials, and other agricultural items consult the CBP Info Center section on the CBP website before they travel. They should also declare all items they’ve acquired abroad to CBP officers to avoid civil or criminal penalties and reduce the risk of introducing pest and disease to the U.S.
Traditionally, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and the Easter holiday weekend are times when CBP agriculture specialists are very busy inspecting floral arrangements. At international ports of entry, land borders, and international mail facilities, CBP agriculture specialists are the front line in the fight against the introduction of insects, pests and diseases into the United States.
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.