- Posted by Juan Pulgar 20 Jan
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Program can reduce inland transportation costs for shippers and lengthen produce shelf life
A pilot program of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been expanded to allow South American fruits to be imported through the Port of Jacksonville, Florida. The program, and the inclusion of Jacksonville, is a tribute to advances in shipboard and landside cold treatment technologies, which eliminate the risk of certain pests being allowed into the country along with thet fruit.
The original program, initiated in the fall of 2013, allowed imports of cold-treated grapes and blueberries from Peru and Uruguay into ports in Miami Dade and Broward counties in southern Florida. The expanded program now also encompasses citrus from Peru, as well as blueberries, apples and pears from Argentina and includes the Port of Jacksonville as of last October 1. Other Florida ports were admitted into the program at the same time, including Port Tampa and Port Manatee.
Imports of South American fruit were previously restricted to entry through northeastern U.S. ports and then trucked to markets in the Southeast. Perishables brought to Jacksonville and other Florida ports will allow consumers in the southeastern U.S. access to fresh produce quicker.
The Agriculture Department regulations come to restrict entry into the U.S. of Mediterranean fruit flies, Asian longhorned beetles, and other pests. Under standards set by the USDA, all imported produce must be quarantined and properly processed. The cold treatment process, one of several treatments approved and monitored by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, involves the holding of produce at a set temperature range for a specified time.
“The Port of Jacksonville was granted entry into the program,” said Frank Camp, the sales director at the Port of Jacksonville who handles reefer cargo. “That means that effective October 1, fruit coming from Peru, Uruguay, and Argentina, including citrus, blueberries, grapes, apples, and pears were allowed to be entered into the U.S. through the Port of Jacksonville. Previously those cargoes had gone through to ports north of the Delaware River. Anything coming to the Southeast had to go to ports in the Northeast and then get trucked down here. The fact that product can now enter Southeastern ports creates a longer shelf for the fruit and allows shippers lower costs.
American Journal of Transportation