EL PASO, TX – In anticipation of the February 14 holiday, checks on flower shipments at ports of entry in El Paso, Texas have intensified, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
According to the corporation, officers are busy checking cut flower shipments to ensure that personal and commercial Valentine’s Day flower imports are free of insects, pests and diseases that could harm the U.S. agricultural and floral industries.
“This is always one of the busiest weeks of the year for CBP agriculture specialists. We typically notice an increase in the number of floral imports arriving at area ports of entry, including those transported by individuals,” said Hector Mancha, CBP Director of Field Operations in El Paso.
CBP advised the public to consult the agency’s website before importing floral arrangements to learn which species are allowed and which are prohibited or restricted.
In addition, it suggested those planning to import flowers and plants from Mexico advise their florist that the arrangements are intended for delivery to the United States. Some plant materials that are prohibited are chrysanthemums and choisya ternata (a floral filler), due to the risk of pests.
While a relatively small number of harmful pests are found among the millions of stems inspected, a single dangerous pest could cause millions of dollars in damage to U.S. crops, CBP detailed.
It also recommended that people wishing to import flowers, plant materials and other agricultural items consult the CBP Information Center section of the agency’s website before traveling or can call (877) 227-5511.
Travelers should also declare all items purchased abroad to CBP officers to avoid civil or criminal penalties and reduce the risk of introducing pests and diseases into the United States.
Traditionally, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and the Easter holiday weekend are the busiest times of the year for CBP agricultural specialists.