SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) diligently inspects shipments of imported cut flowers to prevent the spread of insects or pests that may damage national and local agriculture.
“Agriculture inspections are a crucial part of the inspection process for items entering into the country,” said Keith McFarquhar, Acting Director of Field Operations for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “A single dangerous pest could cause millions of dollars of damage to our nation’s crops.”
During the 2016 Valentine’s Season, which ran from January 1 to Feb. 14, 2016, CBP San Juan Field Operations inspected 3.7 million stems of cut flowers imported from various destinations around the world. This volume puts the San Juan Field Office among the top 10 in the United States in volume of imported cut flowers.
Most of the cut flower shipments are imported from South America, primarily Colombia, with 636 million stems, followed by Ecuador with 198 million stems.
Miami ranks first among U.S. ports of entry for shipments of cut flower imports, followed by Los Angeles. The San Juan Field Office ranked 9thnationwide with the greatest number of flower shipments received in 2016.
The imported cut flowers inspection process resulted in a total of 2441 pest interceptions nationally, with the majority of pest intercepted at Miami ports. The Aguadilla port ranks 3rd among the ports with more pest interceptions, with 181 pests intercepted, 82 of which were determined to be “actionable pests”. At the San Juan Airport, 27 pests were intercepted, placing that port 8th among ports with more pest interceptions nationwide.
CBP agriculture specialists are determined to safeguard American agriculture by demonstrating careful diligence as they examine imported shipments detecting and preventing entry into the country of exotic plant pests and foreign animal diseases that could harm our agricultural resources. They do this with inspection and prevention efforts designed to keep prohibited agricultural items from entering the United States. These items (pests and/or diseases), whether in commercial cargo or as “hitchhikers” with an international airline/vessel, passenger or a pedestrian crossing the border, could cause serious damage to America’s crops, livestock, and the environment.
—U.S. Customs and Border Protection
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