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September 9, 2011

Ten years ago, a tragedy swept over America – a tragedy that would forever impact this country and its people.

American citizens and people around the globe watched in fear as the Twin Towers in New York City crumbled. People stopped working, some fled home to their families and many pulled over in shock as they were driving down the road. America froze in her tracks.

America is remembering the fallen as this weekend marks the ten year anniversary of September 11th.

Alan Jackson’s song in memoriam of this tragedy reminds us of that fateful day: “Where were you when the world stopped turning?”

Of all memorable places to be, our Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam Putnam, was with President George W. Bush.

If you recall, President Bush was in Florida visiting an elementary school. He was with his pal “Red,” as he called the commissioner, who was then Congressman Putnam. Commissioner Putnam recalls the events of that tragic day; from witnessing the president’s first phone call about the attack, to flying across the country in Air Force One.

The children that were sitting in the classroom of Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, where the President was when he heard the news, are now seniors in high school. They reflect on how the President remained strong so that they, along with the rest of the country, could do the same.

That day was a test of America’s strength and level of national security. Our country has worked hard to increase our national security since 9/11 in numerous ways. National security is, by legal definition, a corporate term covering both national defense and foreign relations of the U.S., and refers to the protection of a nation from attack or other dangers. Those dangers include environmental and natural resource protection – that’s our cue. 

DPI works to ensure our national security as well, specifically that of our natural resources and food supply. We are a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services which works to detect, intercept and control plant and honey bee pests that threaten Florida’s native and commercially grown plants and agricultural resources.

Many of you might be pondering why plants may need protection. We monitor the plant industry for invasive pests and diseases that are brought here from other states and/or countries. These species may include insects, other plants, or viruses and diseases.

Non-native species, plant or insect, have no natural enemies in their new environments. Therefore, they have the ability to multiply quickly. Non-native plants tend to take over the native plants’ territory, deeming them an invasive species. Natives and non-native plant species compete for food, water and sunlight, often decreasing the population of our native plants who tend to lose the battle. Insect pests and diseases are also prominent issues for the plant industry, perhaps more so because they are not as visible as the non-native plant species.

Many of these pests and diseases are brought to Florida via people. Possible transmission comes from overseas travelers, international flights and imported goods. These sneaky little critters thrive on agricultural products. They hide in soil, on fruits and vegetables, in processed meats and many other inconspicuous locations. Be sure when you are traveling not to pack anything with agricultural material on it.

But if you fail to heed the hound, our detector dog, Linus, and his pooch patrol will track you down! These pups can be found at airports across the nation and are highly skilled in sniffing out contraband. So Don’t Pack a Pest!

Remember the fallen this September 11th and be proud of the great steps our military, government and other agencies have taken to protect our country since that tragic day. Do your part in protecting our national security – Don’t Pack a Pest!

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