Miami—Flowers are the most popular gift item during the yearly celebration of Valentine’s Day, but they could also be the hiding place for dangerous pests.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection highly trained agriculture specialists at Miami International Airport spend numerous hours searching for these conspicuous bugs.
CBP Port Director for Miami International Airport Roland Suliveras said, "Cut flower importations into Miami International Airport continue to grow in volume and represent a significant portion of trade in South Florida. CBP in Miami is committed to facilitating the movement of these flowers to market while ensuring the interception of pests and the protection of American agriculture.”
While a relatively small number of harmful pests are found among the millions of stems inspected, CBP agriculture specialists are the front line in the fight against the introduction of harmful insects and diseases into the United States. Even a single pest can cause millions of dollars’ worth of damage.
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 three 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 percent compared to the 2012 season.
During the 2013 Valentine’s season:
CBP in Miami processed approximately 738.2 million stems, or 85 percent of the total imported cut flowers nationally, compared to 716.7 million stems imported during the previous year’s season. Los Angeles ranked second by processing 43.7 million flower stems during the 2013 Valentine’s season, compared to 35 million stems imported during the 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.