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 53,510 quarantine material interceptions and 4,211 pest interceptions during fiscal year 2012.
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.
CBP El Paso agriculture specialists ranked number seven nationally in number of pest intercepts in imported cut flowers with 34 incidents recorded during fiscal year 2012.
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 842.2 million cut flower stems during the 2012 Valentine's season from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14, compared to 802.5 million stems processed during the 2011 season -- an increase of 4.9% percent. Most of the cut flower shipments are imported from South America, primarily Colombia, with 536.1 million stems or 67 percent, followed by Ecuador with 194 million stems or 23 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 2012 Valentine's season increased 5.7% compared to 2011 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.