LAREDO, Texas — With Mother’s Day just around the corner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have been busy making sure commercial shipments of imported flowers are pest-free.

CBP agriculture specialists at the Laredo, Texas, port of entry have examined more than 7.3 million stems of flowers over a three-week period leading up to Mother’s Day on Sunday.

In this exclusive behind-the-scenes video, border agents in Laredo, Texas, examine some of the 7.3 million stems of flowers for pests and diseases. (Video by Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Imported flowers could have hitchhiking pests and diseases that could cause millions of dollars in damage to the U.S. flower industry, said Kevin C. Harriger, executive director of CBP’s agriculture programs.

“No one wants to give mom a bouquet teeming with insects or diseases that can wreak havoc on the environment,” Harriger said in a statement. “CBP agriculture specialists are on the frontline ensuring that cut flowers, hanging baskets, and other plant imports are pest-free and presentation ready for Mother’s Day.”

Flowers are imported into the U.S. via temperature-controlled flights, refrigerated trucks and, increasingly, aboard ships in cold storage containers.

Miami International Airport ranks No. 1 among U.S. ports of entry for shipments of cut flowers, processing more than 1 billion stems in 2020. Laredo ranked No. 9 for cut flowers in 2020.

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