USDA’s new Atlanta plant inspection station is emerging as a hub for importing plant material. In our recent survey of cuttings producers, Fischer USA, Oro Farms, GroLink/Athena and GGG International all report using Atlanta in addition to Miami, which has always handled the largest volume.
Atlanta is USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) newest station of live plants. APHIS has 16 inspection stations at international airports and seaports. An additional one in Beltsville, Md., is strictly for research. While most are on our coasts and borders, Atlanta and Orlando are more inland.
The opportunity to have a station in Atlanta came with the vacant horse quarantine center that was used during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. It was authorized by Congress in 2004 and used on a trial basis with low-risk plant material the next two years. In May, a cold storage facility was added, opening the station to all kinds of plant material.
Since last October, 38 million plant units have been shipped through Atlanta, according to Bud Petit de Mange, plant inspection station coordinator. In just this short time, Atlanta ranks at NO. 4, behind Miami, Los Angeles and Newark.
“Miami is far and away the largest plant inspection station, handling between 72 and 78 percent of all the plants coming into the United States, he says. “Los Angeles is one fifth of Miami, handling plants from Asia in large volumes. There are so many plant genera coming in from abutilon to zinnia. The top five plants by genera are geraniums (pelargoniums), poinsettias, perennial geraniums, hosta and African violets.”