You may think of the Customs & Border Protection (CBP) as the agency that protects our borders from illegal immigration. But their duties also include protecting US agriculture and economic interests “...from harmful pests and diseases,” according to their website.
That includes flowers for Valentine’s day.
According to CBP, "During the 2015 Valentine’s season from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14, CBP processed approximately 976 million cut flower stems, compared to 801 million stems during the 2014 season, an increase of 21 percent.”
It is probably not surprising that of the top 10 cut flower imports, roses are number one at 357,675,390 stems. Add that to the 72,301,507 rose bouquets that were inspected. The top country of origin is Colombia (694,453,555 stems) followed by Equador (188,597,055 stems) and Mexico (38,049,730 stems.)
That being said, CBP reminds Americans that certain items brought across the border from Mexico will be examined.
"Groceries, plants, medications, liquor, pets and personal purchases made in Mexico need to be declared when returning to the United States… We encourage all travelers who plan to cross the border with Valentine’s related flowers and goods... to learn more about rules and regulations,” said Beverly Good, CBP El Paso Port Director.
With Valentine’s Day approaching soon, it’s important to be aware of which flowers and floral fillers bought in Mexico are prohibited, including, “...chrysanthemums, gladiolas, mock orange, choysia, cedar, and juniper. If found, Agriculture specialists will have to remove the stems from the flower arrangement.”
If an individual attempts to smuggle in a prohibited product, penalties for failure to declare or even smuggling can be assessed.
Did you know?
- 91% of flowers imported into the US go through Miami
- The cut flower business is estimated to be worth $15 billion dollars annually
- Customs and Border Patrol has more than 2300 Agriculture Specialists working for the agency - they are specially trained and may have advanced degrees in scientific fields such as botany, entomology, biology or plant pathology.
- CBP’s first detector dog program in 1984 was dubbed the “Beagle Brigade” - beagles and beagle mixes were preferred at airports for their non-threatening size, high food drive, keen sense of smell and gentle disposition. Now Labrador Retrievers are also used. There are now more than 110 agriculture canine teams.