WASHINGTON – U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists topped 1 billion flowers for the third straight year as they ensure imported Valentine’s Day flowers are free from insects, pests and diseases that could harm the agricultural and floral industries of the United States.
A CBP Agriculture Specialist inspects a bouquet of roses for insects and pests.
With Valentine’s Day less than a week away, the 2022 numbers are expected to reach those of previous years. As of Feb. 8, CBP agriculture specialists have inspected more than 1.1 billion cut flowers in 482,754 shipments, intercepting 1,770 insects and pests. In 2020, agriculture specialists inspected a total of 1.14 billion cut flowers and 1.21 billion in 2021.
CBP agriculture specialists are the last line in the fight against the introduction of insects, pests and diseases into the United States. Of the 58 countries that import flowers to the United States, Colombia still tops the list at more than 738 million, most going to Miami International Airport. The most popular flowers remain roses, mixed bouquets, and chrysanthemums.
“I commend our agriculture specialists for the incredible achievement of inspecting over 1 billion flowers,” said John Sagle, CBP Acting Executive Director of Agriculture Programs and Trade Liaison. “It is a difficult and complex job to ensure pest-free flowers, but also to clear those shipments quickly enough for use in the holiday. Our nation’s agriculture is safeguarded through their hard work and commitment to the CBP mission.”
While it is not illegal to import flowers from other countries, certain flowers and plant materials commonly found in floral arrangements are restricted because they may carry plant pests and diseases that can cause damage to U.S. agriculture. A single pest could cause millions of dollars of damage to the nation’s crops.
CBP recommends that people who wish to import flowers, plant materials, and other agricultural items consult the CBP Information Center section on the CBP website or call (877) 227-5511 before they travel. Travelers should also declare all items acquired abroad to CBP officers to avoid civil or criminal penalties and reduce the risk of introducing pest and disease to the United States. CBP now offers the CBP One mobile app, which allows travelers to request a variety of CBP services, including inspection of agricultural products. The CBP One app can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Video of cut flower inspections can be found here.