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CCFB News» February 2019

Ag Lit BitPest Protection

02/01/2019 @ 2:30 pm | By Diane Merrion

Recently, there has been a steady stream of news about customs and border patrol, although little is known or mentioned when it comes to the importance of that control as it relates to agriculture. 


Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have specialists that work daily to protect the United States from invasive species that have the potential to damage our environment.  The weeks prior to Valentine’s Day are especially busy with millions of flowers entering our country. 


As part of our Summer Ag Institute for teachers, we often visit the CBP border patrol at O’Hare Airport to learn about the importance of their agriculture team. It is through this education that we more fully understand why we can’t always bring home a homemade palm hat, a beautiful basket or a delicious papaya back with us from our vacations out of the country. 


There is good reason for agricultural import regulations and during our education sessions, CBP staff members take the time to fully explain which pests can and have entered the United States, as well as the damage these pests have caused. 


As February’s huge holiday is around the corner, the CBP offices in Florida, California, and New York inspect/process the almost one billion stems of flowers that can be imported during the Valentine’s Day season to prevent hundreds of pests from entering our United States environment. As we purchase these beautiful flowers for our loved ones, we don’t really think about the importance of these inspections. Our thanks to those who serve us in these roles at the CBP.


Update for those who traveled with me to O’Hare over the past few years. The four-legged friends we met, Frodo, Dino and Chex celebrated their retirement with their handlers and other agricultural specialists in October. During their careers with CBP, all three dogs produced over 75,000 finds for CBP, issued over $170,000 in civil penalties, and turned in over 4,300 pests of possible significant agriculture risk. We wish these amazing animals a happy retirement!

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