LAREDO, Texas — With Valentine’s Day merely two days away, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s proficient agriculture specialists and officers stationed at over 328 ports of entry remain steadfast in their task of meticulously scrutinizing hundreds of millions of incoming cut flower stems. Their objective: to detect and prevent the introduction of plant diseases and pests into the United States, where they pose potential harm.
Across international ports of entry, land borders, and mail facilities, CBP agriculture specialists serve as the vanguard against the infiltration of detrimental insects and diseases into the country.
“CBP agriculture specialists at Laredo Field Office ports of entry shoulder a significant responsibility, inspecting millions of cut flower stems and floral arrangements in both passenger and commercial contexts to thwart the ingress of plant pests not native to the U.S.,” remarked Director of Field Operations Donald R. Kusser, of the Laredo Field Office. “These meticulous inspections safeguard American agriculture, the U.S. floral industry, and uphold the economic stability of the nation.”
In South Texas area ports of entry, chrysanthemums and choysia (an ornamental filler) are among the most commonly prohibited flowers and plant materials from entering the U.S. from Mexico. Their exclusion is due to their known association with harmful pests and diseases.
Although the instances of harmful pests discovered among the millions of stems inspected by CBP are relatively low, the potential damage from a single dangerous pest could amount to millions of dollars for the nation’s crops. As of February 7, agriculture specialists nationwide have cleared over one billion cut flower stems, intercepting 1,581 pests, including 877 quarantine-significant pests capable of introducing invasive insects and diseases into the United States, such as Chrysanthemum White Rust, a fungus that poses a threat to flower growers.
Individuals purchasing floral arrangements in Mexico for transportation to the U.S. are urged to inform their florist accordingly to avoid the use of prohibited plant species in the arrangement. Additionally, it is essential to declare all agricultural items upon entry. Learn more about declaring agricultural items.