Port Manatee joins expanded pilot program

Florida’s Port Manatee has obtained federal approval to receive direct imports of certain cold-treated South American produce through a pilot program.

As of October 1, the port can take part in the Florida Perishables Trade Coalition pilot program, according to US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) officials.

This go-ahead resulted from a July 9 meeting at Port Manatee involving federal officials and stakeholders. At the meeting, APHIS officials and their counterparts from US Customs and Border Protection and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services outlined the pilot program’s procedures and benefits.

Produce shipped to Florida ports through this program can offer US consumers fresher, more inexpensive product than the traditional shipping routes to Philadelphia PA and other northern ports. Because of new technologies for shipboard cold treatment, ships no longer have to take South American produce to northern climates to address pest concerns.

The pilot program was begun in autumn 2013 with imports of cold-treated grapes and blueberries from Peru and Uruguay into ports in South Florida’s Miami Dade and Broward counties. The newly expanded program adds citrus from Peru, as well as apples, blueberries, and pears from Argentina.

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