“Don’t Pack a Pest” Campaign Reaches out to more Caribbean Travelers
June 28, 2013
This week NPR ran a story on Florida’s dubious honor of being the state with the most exposure to exotic crop pests and diseases. Although the report did not mention the Travelers “Don’t Pack a pest,” campaign, its content demonstrates the importance of the campaign and its message.
As the piece by Reporter Greg Allen was running on NPR stations nationwide, the leadership team for the Travelers “Don’t Pack a Pest” campaign was returning from Puerto Rico, St. Croix and St. Thomas in the U.S Virgin Islands, where the group met with customs, agriculture, port and tourism officials. The talks gained support for the campaign and resulted in preliminary agreements to install program signage throughout major ports of entry.
The program is a federally funded, joint effort of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, United States Department of Agriculture and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The face of the campaign is Linus, the CBP agriculture detection dog, and the message is aimed at motivating international travelers to declare agricultural items carried in luggage. Customs and Border Protection agents seize thousands of pounds of dangerous contraband agricultural products daily at international airports and other ports of entry, including at maritime ports.
A continuing goal is to expand to international program outside of the U. S. Jamaica became an international partner in 2012. A partnership with the Dominican Republic is also underway. In the continental U.S., the “Don’t Pack a Pest” message is delivered via the airing of the 60-second video at the nation’s busiest international airports and signage displayed at many cruise ship terminals. The video is also playing aboard JetBlue and American Airlines flights and can also be viewed on-line.
The Florida Department of Agriculture, along with its partnering agencies, is dedicated to informing the traveling public about protecting our food supply and natural resources from harmful pests and diseases and the program continues to seek partners to help drive home the simple but powerful message: “Don’t Pack a Pest.”