"Traveler's Don't Pack a Pest" Outreach Program Launched in Jamaica
~ Jamaica joins in the fight against invasive pests and diseases ~
October 29, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Jamaica is the first official offshore partner in the “Traveler’s Don’t Pack a Pest” outreach program, a cooperative effort between the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture / Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS), and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security / Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Press conferences were held in Jamaica on October 17 and 18 at Sangster International Airport, Montego Bay; Falmouth Cruise Port; and Norman Manley International Airport, Kingston. A panel of dignitaries from Jamaica’s ministries of Agriculture and Fisheries, Tourism, and National Security; Jamaica Customs; airport officials; the U.S. Embassy; USDA/APHIS Greater Caribbean Safeguarding Initiative; and FDACS made formal remarks. The press conference program also involved the unveiling of the “Traveler’s Don’t Pack a Pest” signage newly installed at the airports and the cruise port. Over 60 signs of varying sizes and formats were installed throughout the three facilities delivering the message: Help protect our food supply and natural resources . . . when you travel, declare agricultural items, don’t pack a pest.
The program which is funded by the Farm Bill was developed to improve cooperation in safeguarding activities in Florida ports of entry and beyond. A 60-second video and signage were created to educate travelers about risks associated with bringing undeclared agricultural items into the U.S. A CBP agricultural detector dog, Linus, is the “spokesperson” delivering the messages in the outreach materials.
“This launch with our Jamaican partners has been in development for months, but the goal of creating a program to educate travelers has been discussed for decades between my department and our Federal counterparts,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam. “Providing travelers with information about what they can and can’t bring into the U.S. or other countries will facilitate their travel as well as protect agriculture and the natural environment worldwide,” added Putnam.
Florida hosts an estimated 50 million visitors annually – many unsuspecting travelers bring in plants, animals, animal products, food and other agricultural items in their baggage that can contain harmful pests and diseases. The state spends millions of dollars on detection and eradication programs to try to rid the state of these pests and diseases. Nationally, it is estimated that $20 billion is spent annually to control invasive pests and diseases. These are costs which should be greatly reduced as traveler education efforts continue. In addition, travelers will enjoy smoother processing through customs if they know ahead of time items that are prohibited from entry to the U.S. and other countries.
The program video is scheduled to air in 20 of the U.S.’s busiest international airports and is currently being shown in Orlando, Miami, Houston, Atlanta, San Francisco, and others. It is also airing on American Airline flights. Signage is displayed at Miami International Airport, the Port of Miami, Orlando, and now offshore in Jamaica.
Outreach efforts continue with website development, collaborating with the USDA/APHIS Greater Caribbean Safeguarding Initiative to pursue additional offshore partnerships, and to place the video and signage at more ports of entry in Florida and elsewhere in the U.S.
For more information visit www.dontpackapest.com
Photo caption: Launch of “Traveler’s Don’t Pack a Pest” outreach campaign at Norman Manley International Airport, Kingston, Jamaica. From left: Damion Crawford, Minister of State, Jamaica Ministry of Tourism; Shannon Shepp, Deputy Commissioner, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Dr. Raymond Brown, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of United States, Kingston, Jamaica; Jennifer Lemly, Director, Greater Caribbean Safeguarding Initiative, USDA/APHIS; Dr. Marc Panton, Chief Technical Director, Jamaica Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries; and Major Richard Reese, Commissioner of Customs, Jamaica Customs.
For more information about the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.