By Commissioner Kerlikowske
Yesterday, I traveled to Miami where U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s highly trained agriculture specialists are inspecting millions of roses, daisies, tulips and other flowers. On any given day, the agriculture specialists process about 16.4 million cut flower stems; but in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, our specialists are looking at a massive 378.2 million stems.
It’s critically important not only to consumers, but to the vitality of the U.S. economy that cut flower imports are carefully inspected. Some of these flowers may carry hitchhiking pests and diseases that could cause millions of dollars in damage to the U.S. flower industry and beyond.
While the vast majority of flowers entering the country are safe, even one hitchhiking pest or plant disease can cause significant damage to American agriculture. Close collaboration with floral industry stakeholders has resulted in an unwavering commitment to facilitating the importation of these flowers while ensuring the interception of any hitchhiking pests to protect American agriculture.
Valentine’s Day at Miami International Airport is one of the most demanding times of the year for CBP agriculture specialists who ensure that flower bouquets are free from pests.
Visit our website for more information and statistics about CBP’s cut flower inspections.
During the 2014 Valentine’s season:
- CBP agriculture specialists in Miami processed approximately 87 percent of the total imported cut flowers nationally; Los Angeles ranked second.
- The top cut flower imports processed in Miami consist of roses, mixed bouquets, and Dianthus.
- The imported cut flowers inspection process resulted in 2,737 pest interceptions nationally. Miami intercepted 1,422 pests, followed by Los Angeles with 383 pests.
- The most common type of insects intercepted in these cut flower imports are Tetranychus sp. (mites), Aphididae (Aphids), Agromyzidae (Miner Flies) and Noctuidae (moths).
- Most of the cut flower shipments are imported from South America, primarily Colombia, followed by Ecuador.
- CBP processed approximately 801.1 million cut flower stems nationally during the 2014 Valentine’s season from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14, compared to 867.2 million stems processed during the 2013 season -- a decrease of 7.6 percent.