CBP Agriculture Specialists at the El Paso port of entry Bridge of the Americas cargo lot inspect a commercial shipment of flowers and plants for disease and pests February 10, 2020. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

CBP Valentine’s Day Prep: Are Your Flowers Pest and Disease Free?

As Valentine’s Day rapidly approaches, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s officers and agriculture specialists will be busy with travelers arriving at Arizona ports of entry. Groceries, plants, medications, liquor, pets and personal purchases made in Mexico need to be declared when returning to the United States.

CBP recommends to individuals bringing flower arrangements from Mexico to be aware of prohibited flowers and floral fillers that are not allowed into the United States. Some of the prohibited cut flowers seen in this area are chrysanthemums, mock orange, choysia (ornamental filler), cedar, and juniper.

If found, agriculture specialists will have to remove the stems from the flower arrangement. Individuals purchasing floral arrangements in Mexico for import to the U.S. should advise their florist so prohibited plant species are not used in the arrangement.

CBP agriculture specialists are the front line in the fight against the introduction of harmful insects and diseases into the United States. CBP agriculture specialists performing agriculture exams at Arizona ports recorded a total of 41,831quarantine material interceptions and 3,921pest interceptions during fiscal year 2019. They also issued 370 violations to passengers and crew members, along with 2,193 treatments performed.

For other items such as fresh produce, meats, personal purchases, or gifts, the public will need to declare at the time of inspection to expedite travel and avoid receiving a civil penalty or seizure of the item. Items such as plants and soil are prohibited. Penalties for failure to declare or smuggling can be issued if an individual is trying to import a prohibited product.

Prohibited agriculture items typically are not allowed to enter the U.S. from foreign countries because they are known to harbor harmful pests and disease. Agriculture specialists ensure that plant and animal pests and diseases are detected and stopped from being introduced into the United States where they could cause harm.

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