U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations agriculture specialists conducted a joint rail operation at the Portal Port of Entry rail facility, which resulted in the discovery of federal noxious weed seeds and invasive insects.

Over the course of a two-day operation at the Portal POE, CBP agriculture specialists from the ports of Pembina, N.D., and International Falls, Minn., participated with local agriculture specialists in the inspection of twelve rail container shipments from various countries destined to multiple states in the United States, according to a CBP news release. Of these 12 shipments, nine were found to be infested with invasive insects or federal noxious weed seeds. In some cases the containers were infested with both.

“The interceptions at the Portal POE emphasize the importance of agriculture inspection at the Canadian border,” said Pembina Area Port Director Mary Delaquis. “CBP agriculture specialists are the first line of defense in protecting our borders from harmful pests and diseases that could adversely affect our food production.”

Some of the intercepts discovered during the Portal POE operation were as follows:

  1. In a container of steel wheels from China, the agriculture specialists collected 13 different species of insects and two species of seeds from just one container. Two of these insects and one seed were positively identified as invasive species requiring re-export.
  2. Kokeshi longhorn beetles (family Cerambycidae), were discovered in a container of wire going to Illinois. Cerambycid beetle larvae love to feed on most U.S. fruit trees and the only way to get rid of the larvae at the source is to destroy the trees they have infested.
  3. Ticks (Rhipicephalus), aphids (Uroleucon), and noxious weed seeds (Imperata cylindrica) tried to make their way to Iowa from Taiwan with a shipment of nuts and bolts. Imperata cylindrica, a.k.a. cogon grass, is not only highly invasive, but also highly flammable. The aphids spread plant diseases from one plant to another. The ticks from foreign countries often carry diseases that could not only be harmful to livestock, but also could impact human health.
  4. In a shipment of drilling machinery going to South Carolina, the agriculture specialists found that the container not only had Imperata cylindrica seeds in it, but had not been cleaned out from a previous shipment. This previous shipment of seed corn and corn dust covered the floor, walls, and ceiling. Corn and its relatives are prohibited due to diseases they could bring in that could devastate the nation's corn crops.

Importers and travelers can check for restrictions on agricultural products by contacting a CBP agricultural specialist at 701-825-5820 or visiting prohibited items.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

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