Turks and Caicos Islands Newest Partners in “Don’t Pack a Pest”
December 21, 2015
The Turks and Caicos Islands joined the “Don’t Pack a Pest” partnership last week. The campaign was launched in 2011. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services developed it, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection.
Its goal is to increase travelers’ awareness of the importance of declaring agricultural products brought into the United States. Products that should be declared include fresh fruits, vegetables, cut flowers, plant material, animal products and firewood, among others.
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.
“Invasive pests, some of which enter the state through Florida’s international air and seaports, have the potential to devastate Florida’s more than $120 billion agriculture industry,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “Keeping these pests outside our borders is the most effective way to protect our state from threats, and this campaign helps us do that.”
Videos featuring the “Don’t Pack a Pest” program’s simple message, “When You Travel, Declare Agriculture Items, Don’t Pack a Pest,” can be seen in 20 of the busiest airports throughout the U.S., where an estimated 85 percent of international travelers are processed. Signage is also placed throughout Florida’s major ports of entry and in six Caribbean locations where partnerships have been implemented. Nations partnering in the program include Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands — and as of last week, Turks and Caicos Islands. More than 680 program signs are displayed at 52 ports of entry. Other elements of the campaign include a website that assists travelers in determining which agricultural products are allowed or prohibited entry in to the U.S., digital and print advertising, billboards and social media.
For more information about the “Don’t Pack a Pest” campaign, please visit dontpackapest.com.