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Pilot Program Tests Importing South American Fruit through South Florida Seaports

August 19, 2013

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State and federal agencies are working to finalize a pilot program to bring grapes and blueberries from Peru and Uruguay into Port Everglades and PortMiami beginning in October, according Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale.

The permit to proceed is expected to be approved this month.

State and federal agencies are working to finalize a pilot program to bring grapes and blueberries from Peru and Uruguay into Port Everglades and PortMiami. Photo: Courtesy of Port Everglades
State and federal agencies are working to finalize a pilot program to bring grapes and blueberries from Peru and Uruguay into Port Everglades and PortMiami. Photo: Courtesy of Port Everglades

Currently, due to decades-old regulations, grapes, blueberries and other perishables are first brought into the United States through North Atlantic seaports that have cooler climates.

Port Everglades says if the pilot program is proven successful, fruit could be shipped directly to South Florida and delivered to local grocery stores faster and at a lower cost. Additionally, it could be expanded to include other cold-treated perishables from these and other countries.

"Our ambition is to have this pilot become a success so it can be expanded to other countries and other commodities," international trade attorney Lee Sandler of Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, PA, told attendees at a recent meeting between regulatory agencies, importers, growers, shippers and terminal operators at Port Everglades. Sandler spoke on behalf of the Florida Perishables Trade Coalition, a non-profit association that focuses the collective experience and efforts of trade, transportation and port leaders from throughout the state to increase trade in perishable products through Florida's airports and seaports.

Sandler, with input from inspectors with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Customs & Border Protection says several steps are needed to ensure the program's success. The key component is protecting Florida's citrus industry from destructive fruit flies.

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