CBP, USDA-APHIS Collaboration Ensures Pest-Free Flowers for Valentine's Day
BOSTON—U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations Port of Boston agriculture specialists processed shipments of imported flowers that totaled more than three million stems during the FY 2012 Valentine's Day season, Jan. 1 to Feb. 14.
CBP's highly trained agriculture specialists inspect imported cut flowers for pests and diseases that could harm U.S. agricultural and environmental resources, including the flower industry.
"Boston's CBP agriculture specialists work to protect American agriculture and natural resources," said Kevin Weeks, director of field operations in Boston. "While the number of harmful pests intercepted is small in comparison to the masses of cut flowers processed in Boston, a single dangerous pest could cause millions of dollars of damage to our nation's crops."
The success of CBP's Agriculture Quarantine Inspection program in preventing the entry of pests and diseases is a result of the cooperative work that CBP and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service are doing together.
APHIS is responsible for establishing the regulations and guidelines that govern the import of agricultural products, and together with CBP, is improving performance and making greater strides to protect the homeland.
In FY 2012, Boston area CBP agriculture specialists performing agriculture exams throughout all environments recorded more than 1,000 pest interceptions. Specifically, some significant pests found on imported flowers in Boston included species in the following pest/animal families: Arionidae (Slugs), Thripidae (Thrips) and Noctuidae (moths). Narcissus, Tulipa and Rosa were the most common genera of imported flower.
This is the second year in a row that the Port of Boston made the 'Top 10' list of ports of entry that process large volumes of imported cut flowers.
One of the most serious diseases that can be introduced via imported flowers is chrysanthemum white rust. If established in the United States, the disease could decimate the U.S. chrysanthemum industry. Other agricultural pests and diseases capable of destroying our nation's crops or forests include the Emerald ash borer, the Asian long-horned beetle, citrus canker and the Khapra beetle.
During the 2012 Valentine's season from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14, CBP processed 842.2 million cut flower stems. 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.
Media who wish to visit one of these top 10 ports for flower imports, please contact the press officer assigned to that area. Contact information is available online on the Press Officers website.
Photographs are available online: Photo Gallery - CBP Flower Inspections
Additional facts and figures about imported cut flowers are available on the Stats and Summaries website.
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.