SAN DIEGO – Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists are busy working at U.S. ports of entry to ensure that flowers that are being imported, are free from pests and diseases that could harm the agricultural and floral industry of the United States.
“We understand that travelers would like to bring unique gifts, especially flower bouquets for their loved ones; however, protecting the integrity of our floral and agriculture industry from invasive pests and diseases, is a top priority,” said Sidney Aki, CBP Director of Field Operations for the San Diego Field Office. “If established, these pests and diseases can have a severe impact on the economic vitality of our floral and agriculture industry within the United States.”
A common cut-flower called “Chrysanthemums” from Mexico, are prohibited through the passenger ports of entry. The current restrictions are to prevent fungi, such as “Chrysanthemum White Rust”, from entering the United States. Chrysanthemum White Rust is caused by the fungus Puccinia horiana P. Henn. If established in the U.S., this plant disease has the potential to have an extremely damaging impact on our agricultural and floral industry. To learn more about this type of plant disease, visit Chrysanthemum White Rust.
Additionally, certain types of cut greenery, that are used to fill a bouquet, may have pests and diseases. An example is the Murraya (common name “orange jasmine”) it is a host for Asian citrus psyllid; a dangerous pest found in citrus. If any portion of a bouquet has pests, the entire bouquet will be confiscated upon entry into the United States.
Roses, carnations, and many other flowers are allowed into the United States after they undergo inspection. However, plants for growing require a permit to be admissible, and soil cannot be imported from Mexico. Travelers must declare all flowers and plants to CBP officers.
If a traveler declares a bouquet that has prohibited flowers and greenery, it will be seized. If it does not, CBP agriculture specialists will inspect the bouquet for pests and diseases. If CBP agriculture specialists do not discover any pests or diseases, the traveler will be allowed to keep the bouquet and enter the U.S.
CBP encourages travelers to declare all agricultural items to a CBP officer upon arrival to avoid penalties. Travelers should not attempt to bring fruits, vegetables, or meats into the United States without first confirming they are permitted. Raw eggs and poultry from Mexico are prohibited and will be confiscated at the port. For more information, travelers are encouraged to visit the Bringing Agricultural Products into the United States section of the CBP website.
CBP officers at the border crossing in Southern California stop illegal activity while processing millions of legitimate travelers into the United States. Those statistics can be found here: CBP-enforcement-statistics.
Follow the Director of CBP’s San Diego Field Office on Twitter at @DFOSanDiegoCA for breaking news, current events, human interest stories and photos.