Commissioner Putnam Launches Public Awareness Campaign to Inform Travelers of Risks Associated with Introduction of Harmful Pests and Diseases
In Partnership with USDA and CBP, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Develops “Don’t Pack a Pest”
Miami, FL – The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Miami-Dade County, launched the “Don’t Pack a Pest” public awareness campaign today, with a public service announcement, billboards and dioramas on display at the Miami International Airport. The campaign, previewed at a press conference hosted by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in Miami this morning, is intended to raise awareness among travelers for the risks associated with the introduction of harmful pests and diseases.
“Don’t Pack a Pest will help us inform travelers about the potential consequences foreign pests or diseases can have on Florida’s agriculture industry and our economy,” said Commissioner Putnam. “It is important for travelers to declare their agricultural products for inspection so that we can protect our nation’s food supply.”
Because of its climate, geography and crop diversity, combined with the multiple international air and marine ports throughout the state, Florida faces a high risk for the introduction of pests and diseases. At least one pest or disease is introduced into Florida every month, including pests that are new to Florida, new to the continent or new to the hemisphere.
“Pests and diseases can be devastating to Florida agriculture,” said Commissioner Putnam. “Keeping them from entering our borders is the most effective way to avoid infestation.”
Agricultural pests and diseases have the potential to destroy not only Florida’s produce, but also the trees and plants that bear fruits and vegetables. Once introduced to the U.S., these threats can spread quickly by transportation, wind or rain.
In 2009, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services formed a partnership with USDA and CBP to safeguard agriculture at Florida points of entry and beyond. Together, the team designed the public awareness campaign to educate travelers about the consequences of traveling with agricultural products.
Elements of the campaign include a public service announcement, billboards, dioramas and social media. The campaign features Linus, an agriculture detector dog, whose responsibility is to detect the presence of agricultural products in luggage and with travelers. The visuals are present at the Miami International Airport and may be expanded regionally and nationally, if proven effective in Florida.
Commissioner Putnam made the announcement during a press conference at the airport in Miami this morning, alongside Paul Hornby, State Plant Health Director, USDA, Vernon Foray, Director of Field Operations, Miami Field Office, CBP, and Richard Gaskalla, Director, Division of Plant Industry, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The event also featured a demonstration by an agriculture detector dog, who plays a key role in detecting agricultural products with travelers or in luggage.
For additional information on the “Don’t Pack a Pest” campaign, visit www.freshfromflorida.com/pi/travelers.
For more information about the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com or follow Commissioner Putnam on Facebook, www.Facebook.com, or Twitter, @adamputnam.
Contact: Sterling Ivey
July 8, 2011