El Paso, Texas —In the weeks leading to Valentine’s Day, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s highly trained agriculture specialists ensure that plant diseases and plant pests are detected and stopped from being introduced into the United States where they could cause harm.
At international ports of entry, land borders and mail facilities, CBP agriculture specialists are the front line in the fight against the introduction of harmful insects and diseases into the United States. El Paso area CBP agriculture specialists performing agriculture exams recorded a total of 54,321 quarantine material interceptions and 4,335 pest interceptions during fiscal year 2013.
At El Paso area ports of entry, the most commonly prohibited flowers and plant materials are chrysanthemums, gladiolas, and choisya (an ornamental filler). These items are not allowed to enter the U.S. from Mexico because they are known to harbor harmful pests and disease.
Individuals purchasing floral arrangements in Mexico for transport to the U.S. should advise their florist so prohibited plant species will not be used in the arrangement.
CBP processed approximately 867.2 million cut flower stems during the 2013 Valentine’s season from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14, compared to 842.2 million stems processed during the 2012 season -- an increase of 3% percent. Most of the cut flower shipments are imported from South America, primarily Colombia, with 567.3 million stems or 65.4 percent, followed by Ecuador with 190.2 million stems or 21.9 percent.
Miami ranks first among U.S. ports of entry for shipments of cut flower imports, followed by Los Angeles. The quantity of imported cut flowers processed by both ports during the 2013 Valentine’s season increased 4% compared to 2012 season.
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.