Valentine's Day flowers arrive at LAX for inspection

LOS ANGELES U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) prepare for Valentine's Day by inspecting cut flower shipments arriving from overseas, mostly South America.

CBP agriculture specialists inspect flowers to ensure they are free from pests or diseases. Historically, Valentine's Day is the second busiest time for cut flower importations. Mother's Day is the busiest.

 "CBP agriculture specialists are the first line of defense against pests and diseases that could harm the U.S. agriculture industry. These pests can seriously damage America's crops, livestock and the environment," said Mitchell Merriam, CBP Acting Port Director of Los Angeles International Airport.

 If pests or diseases are intercepted, the shipments are treated, re-exported or destroyed.

Last year during this season (Jan 1-Feb. 14), CBP agriculture specialists at Los Angeles International Airport processed over 37 million flower stems and intercepted 372 pests.  Los Angeles ranked second in the nation among U.S. ports of entry for the number of cut flower shipments during this season. Miami ranked first with more than 875 million flower stems.

During the 2015 Valentine's Day season, CBP agriculture specialists nationwide intercepted 2,870 pests. In the same period, approximately 976 million cut flower stems were processed compared to 801 million stems during the 2014 season, an increase of 21 percent.

The top three types of flower shipments in the U.S. during the Valentine's season last year were roses, mixed bouquets and rose bouquets. The top three countries of origin were: Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico.

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