Boston -The Customs and Border Protection, Boston Field Office knows how important Valentine's Day can be for some people. With many of the cut flowers given to loved one's on this special day having their roots overseas, CBP agriculture specialists has taken special care over the last couple of weeks inspecting a wide variety of flowers to assure they are not carrying pests or diseases that could damage not only the flowers themselves, but could also devastate crops, livestock and/or the environment.
"Agriculture specialists are the first line of defense in protecting America's agriculture resources," said Director of Field Operations Kevin Weeks. "Not only do they protect our homeland against pests, disease and agricultural products that could destroy our crops and economy, they also protect the flowers you receive on this special day."
During the 2010 Valentine's season, CBP nationally processed approximately 320.8 million cut flower stems from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14, compared to 148.5 million stems processed during the 2009 season. Most of the cut flower shipments are imported from South America, primarily Colombia with 211.9 million stems followed by Ecuador with 70.5 million stems.
The imported cut flowers inspection process resulted in 3,054 agricultural pests being intercepted nationally during the 2010 Valentine's Day season by CBP that could potentially harm America's agricultural resources. The most common type of insects intercepted in these cut flower imports are Thrips (Thripidae), Moths (Noctuidae), Aphididae (Aphids) and Miner Flies (Agromyzidae). In cases where flowers are found to contain a pest or disease, the shipment is fumigated, re-exported or destroyed.
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.