If allowed to enter the country, these items could pose a threat to U.S. agriculture
By Diego Flammini
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspectors at the International Mail Facility (IMF) at O’Hare International Airport have had a busy few months.
Since October, agriculture specialists there have intercepted 1,667 ag shipments containing prohibited items.
Most shipments include goods like sausages, seeds and plant materials.
But some were found to have odd items.
On March 29, for example, a package originating in the Netherlands and heading to Iowa contained two skulls. Agriculture specialists discovered two additional shipments for a total of six skulls.
Weeks prior, on March 8, agriculture specialists, with the help of Hitch, a CBP canine, found three packages from Poland containing live moss bathmats. These bathmats didn’t have a USDA Permit or Phytosanitary Certificate and were later destroyed.
The average U.S. citizen doesn’t see the work these specialists do, but they are helping keep the U.S. ag sector and food supply safe, said LaFonda Sutton-Burke, director, field operations-Chicago Field Office.
"Our nation's food supply is constantly at risk from pests and disease not known to occur in the U.S. These significant interceptions by our CBPAS at the IMF at O’Hare exemplify CBP's continued commitment to safeguarding American agriculture," she said in an April 7 statement.
Agriculture specialists in other parts of the country have made important discoveries too.
Before the end of 2021, inspectors at the Gateway International Bridge in Brownsville, Texas, found a specimen of Pharypia nitidiventris in Spanish moss used to decorate a Christmas nativity stable.
CBP publicized the discovery on March 14.
This pest is part of the stink bug family, which feed on multiple crops including apples, soybeans and peaches.