Handler Karen Holton and Jammer visit with Richard Gaskalla, Director of the FDACS Division of Plant Industry.

FDACS canine continues to recover

Jammer, one of the FDACS agriculture detector dogs, paid us a visit today at Division of Plant Industry headquarters in Gainesville.

This is a big day for the boisterous canine. He had his splint removed at the UF School of Veterinary Medicine. Last month, he underwent an operation to fix his front leg, which he injured while playing, off-duty.


In an earlier photo, Jammer, sporting the splint that was removed today.

He is now on the mend, and he and his handler, Karen Holton, will continue to exercise until he is ready to return to duty, inspecting shipments at shipping hubs in Miami.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services deploys detector dog teams to shipping hubs to inspect packages for plants and plant materials that might transfer invasive pests and diseases into the state.


DPI Diary

March 27, 2015

A compendium of the week’s social media activities at the FDACS Division of Plant Industry.

Oh, the anticipation! Thursday fun is coming to Facebook

Thursday was 4-H day at the Capitol, prompting Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam to post this video on Instagram. He also celebrated Throwback Thursday by posting a photo of himself as a 4-H member.


4-H Member Adam H. Putnam

Which inspired a great suggestion from one of our DPI social media collaborators (we’ll tell you who next week): Let’s devote Throwback Thursdays to 4-H for a while. This person has agreed to be the first to post a photo of herself “back in the day,” and invite Facebook friends to guess her identity. First correct guess will net the recipient a coveted Don’t Pack a Pest T-shirt. Watch for the post next Thursday.

Jamaica gives Don’t Pack a Pest a reboot

DPAPAmbassadorJamaicaOur Don’t Pack a Pest team traveled to Jamaica a few days ago as that nation rededicated itself to the Don’t Pack a Pest program, which informs travelers about the importance of declaring agricultural items in luggage. Jamaica was the first Caribbean nation to partner in the program in 2012. Check out our blog entry on the visit, and be sure to watch the videos from the high school in Kingston where the ceremonies took place. While you’re doing that, take five minutes or so to listen to the radio coverage of the relaunch by the Jamaica Information Service.

Chiefland Citizen profiles Budwood Repository

Chiefland Citizen staff writer Ashley Thornton published a story in the newpaper’s “In our Backyard” section profiling the FDACS Budwood Repository. Located far north of the majority of the state’s commercial citrus groves, the facility plays a vital support role for Florida’s $10.7 citrus industry. Read the story here. Ashley, incidentally, is a former FDACS-DPI staffer.

GALS eradication efforts in national spotlight again

Federal officials’ announcement of plans to spend nearly $60 million this year to combat insect pests that threaten U.S. crops spawned a Tribune News Service story noting most of the money, appropriated through the 2014 farm bill, will go to California ($18 million) and Florida ($7 million). The lion’s share of Florida’s funding will help pay for continuing efforts to eradicate the giant African land snail from South Florida, and the news service used the program’s success to date to illustrate how those federal funds are used.

Outreach continues urging Florida residents to watch for, report GALS


Post-it notes appeared on front page of March 20 Miami Herald–first day of spring.

Some residents of Miami-Dade and Broward counties found a reminder on the front of their Miami Herald urging them to watch for and report giant African land snails. The FDACS eradication program is also sponsoring billboards on U.S. 1 and the Palmetto Expressway in Miami and on I-4 northbound just south of Orlando. The boards urge residents to watch for giant African land snails and to report suspects to the Helpline, 1-888-397-1517. Thusfar, no GALS have been found in Florida outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, so why the Orlando boards? The Central Florida outreach is a cautionary measure. Everyone in the state should be watching for the snails, which pose a serous threat to agriculture, landscapes, buildings and human and animal health.

GALS Billboard2

Have a great weekend, everybody.



Jamaica has been a partner in the Don’t Pack a Pest program since 2012. This month, officials there relaunched the program, confirming their nation’s dedication to it.

The Don’t Pack a Pest travelers program is administered by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection. The  program educates international travelers about the importance of declaring agricultural items in luggage. Travelers are encouraged to visit the mobile device-friendly website, DontPackaPest.com, to comply with regulatons aimed at preventing international movement of invasive pests and diseases.

The “Ambassador”

DPAPAmbassadorJamaicaThe team dubbed the tall gentleman in the middle of this photo “Ambassador of the Month” when he got off an airplane at the Montego Bay airport already wearing one of our tees. He had received it at an earlier event. Surrounding him are members of the team surveying travelers at the airport in order to gauge the effectiveness of the program.


Don’t Pack a Pest team representatives at the airport, with the Norman Manley Airport survey team from the Jamaican Ministry of Agriculture. that surveyed travelers to gauge their awareness of the program.

Relaunching the program

The partnership between Jamaica and the USA was celebrated with a relaunch event at the Donald Quarrie High School.

IMG_0157Donovan Stanberry, Permanent Secretary of the Jamaican Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, chaired the event at the high school. Heather Curlett of the USDA, Denise Feiber, of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and others provided comments. The Hon. Derrick Kellier, MP Minister of Agriculture, Labor and Social Security, gave the keynote address.

Minister Kellier was at something of a disadvantage, as his comments followed a dramatic presentation by students that portrayed a passenger who obviously had not absorbed the “Don’t Pack a Pest” message. Hint: A live chicken was involved.

We captured the skit on video, which you can view here.


. . . And here’s the big number by the members of the Drama Club:



Jamaican Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Derrick Kellier, MP Minister of Agriculture, Labor and Social Security, center, in suit, and Donovan Stanberry, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, second from right, welcomed the Don’t Pack a pest team to the relaunch of the program in Jamaica.


Staff from the Jamaican Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries present outreach materials at the relaunch ceremonies.




Chiefland Citizen staff writer Ashley Thornton nicely describes the role of the FDACS/DPI Budwood Repository in this article, published in the “In Our Backyard” section of the newspaper.  

In Our Backyard 

Much of Florida’s citrus gets 

its start in Chiefland



When most people think of citrus in the state, areas in South Florida may come to mind, but an important resource for citrus just happens to be right here in our backyard.

“Very few people fathom growing citrus in North Florida,” said Ben Rosson, Operations and Management Consultant Manager at the Bureau of Citrus Budwood Registration in Chiefland.


Photo by Ashley Thornton Ben Rosson explains the budwood process at the Citrus Budwood facility outside Chiefland. (Photos: Ashley Thornton)

Rosson said their goal at the facility is to protect all citrus varieties and provide clean source material to the industry. He said they are the germplasm repository for the state.

“As the Division of Plant Industry-Bureau of Citrus Budwood Registration-Chiefland Budwood Foundation, we are tasked with providing high yielding, pathogen tested, quality budlines that will positively impact the productivity and prosperity of our citrus industry,” Rosson said in an email on Monday.

There are over 500 different varieties of citrus grown in the greenhouses at the Budwood facility, Rosson said, adding they have pretty much every variety in the state legally. They’re mainly here to protect those varieties and help commercial citrus nurseries, he said. The facility sends out budwood to nurseries for use in creating their own scion trees for budwood production, increase trees for 36 months or to fill a commercial order. He said they also work with research agencies, such as the United States Department of Agriculture and the University of Florida and send them material for their research projects.

The facility secured funding from the legislature with the help of their commissioner, director and various nurserymen and growers throughout the state which allowed them to build a fifth greenhouse that houses primarily commercial varieties, he said.

IMG_9510Rosson said the Bureau is also tasked with bringing in citrus varieties from out of the country and state, cleaning them up and releasing them to the citrus industry. He said it’s the same with varieties researchers create. The average clean up time before a variety is released at the Budwood facility is about two years, Rosson said, adding the process involves testing for every known disease of citrus to make sure they’re completely clean when introduced at the facility. Even then, the plants must spend one month in a separated screen room to see if they exhibit any disease symptoms, he said.

The facility is pretty much self sufficient, Rosson said due to the money made selling to growers and nurseries. All proceeds go into their FDACS Division of Plant Industry general trust fund. They also have inmate labor, cleaning up and mowing, which he said helps them to save money. In the past, he said, production would slow down during cooler times of the year, but now they’re busy year around.

In 2006, Rosson said they were looking for a place to move their foundation grove, originally located in Winterhaven. Andrew’s Nursery, their sister agency with the Department of Agriculture, Florida Forest Services offered them land to build their greenhouses on. He said hurricanes destroyed their screen houses at the original location and they were looking for a place that would be out of the historical strike zone of hurricanes and also mentioned the disease pressure of being in the citrus belt. 

Construction was complete in September 2007 and in October 2007 they had plants in the ground. They now have about four acres under greenhouses, he said.

“We’re pretty under the radar,” Rosson said, adding they do not take plant questions at the facility due to the possibility of plant pests or disease pathogens being introduced there. To avoid the same risk, employees there change into uniforms upon arriving at work and walk through an anti-bacterial soap spray and double entries with forced air before entering the greenhouses. They are also only allowed to sell to certified and registered citrus nurseries and research agencies, according to rule 5B-62, said Rosson, which also governs the procedures for keeping the citrus pest and pathogen free.

For more information on citrus in Florida, contact your local county extension service.


Posted by permission of the Chiefland Citizen



Federal officials last week announced plans to spend nearly $60 million this year to combat insect pests that threaten U.S. crops. A Tribune News Service story by Chris Adams noted that most of the money, appropriated through the 2014 farm bill, will go to California ($18 million) and Florida ($7 million). The lion’s share of Florida’s funding will help pay for continuing efforts to eradiate the giant African land snail from South Florida.

GALS Billboard2The story, carried by media outlets around the county, goes on to review the progress the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has made toward eradicating the snails, including the fact that, due to our teams’ efforts, fewer snails are being found now, and more of those that are found are dead.

The GALS is one of the world’s most threatening crop pests. It is also a threat to landscapes, human and animal health and even structures. To date, it has only been detected in South Florida.

Everyone in Florida should be aware of these destructive snails, however. Recently, for the first time outside of South Florida, a billboard on I-4 south of Orlando has begun flashing a message about the snails, urging residents to watch for them and report any snail suspected of being a giant African land snail to the Helpline, 1-888-397-1517.

Florida agricultural officials fully expect to accomplish eradication. However, success depends on the snails not being transported, inadvertently or on purpose, to any other part of the state. That is why we have extended our outreach to central Florida.




This Post-it note appeared on the front page of many copies of the Miami Herald and Nuevo Herald this morning. It is a reminder that the giant African land snail remains a threat to plants, human and animal health, as well as property in South Florida. Our FDACS-DPI teams are working every day to eradicate the invasive pest. To learn more, click here.

Think you have found one? Don’t touch it with your bare hands. Call the Helpline immediately: 1-888-397-1517.

Funding Will Help Protect State’s $120 Billion Agriculture Industry from Invasive Species

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services today announced the state will receive $7.3 million in federal funding through the federal Farm Bill to help eradicate pests and control diseases that affect the state’s $120 billion agriculture industry.

“From citrus greening to giant African land snails and many others, pests and diseases are major threats to Florida agriculture,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “This funding will help prevent the spread of pests and diseases throughout the state and help keep Florida’s $120 billion agriculture industry going strong.”

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) yesterday released the spending plan for the pest and disease control section of the Farm Bill. The purpose of the APHIS funding is to prevent the introduction and spread of plant pests and diseases that threaten the U.S. agriculture and environment. This funding will strengthen pest surveillance, detection and identification and help mitigate these threats.

The state programs that will be funded include:

  • Giant African land snail mitigation.
  • Detector dog inspections.
  • Enhanced pest detection at high-risk domestic interdiction sites and marina/canal systems.
  • Collaborative educational and regulatory activities between the Florida, California and Hawaii agriculture departments of agriculture.
  • Research and development for citrus health, including producing clean germplasm.
  • Mitigation of a variety of pests, including the Asian giant hornet, invasive snails and slugs, exotic whiteflies, brown marmorated stink bug and cactus moths.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,766 other followers

%d bloggers like this: