Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Important News from FCBF and Port of Miami

Florida Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association, Inc.
At our the perishables meeting held last Tuesday, members of the PortMiami Perishables Committee expressed concern that the federal sequestration could result in local furloughs and/or cut Customs and Border Protection's (CBP's) manpower to the equivalent of about 5,000 agents over the coming months.  This possible cut is a critical concern for the perishables community and many members expressed their concern. 
Thus, at the request of the committee members, PortMiami has penned a letter to CBP Headquarters outlining the concerns that the sequestration and or furloughs may cause the perishables industry here in South Florida.  The letter is addressed to Deputy CBP Commissioner David Aguliar, and cc'ed to our Florida Congressional Delegation. 
Please also let me know, via an e-mail confirmation, whether your company/organization would want to sign onto the letter  - we would like to have various members of the perishables committee - including carriers, terminal operators, customs brokers, trucking companies and FCBF's general membership to sign on.  Please get back to us by COB tomorrow, as we hope to have a final draft to send out with you company/organization's name sent out by COB tomorrow.
Thank you, in advance, for your assistance on this important issue.      
Eric Olafson, Esq.
Manager, Intergovernmental Affairs/Cargo Development
1015 N. America Way, Miami, FL  33132
Office (305) 577-6427; Cell (786) 266-4711
March 27, 2013          
Dear Commissioner Aguilar,    
On behalf of the PortMiami Perishables Committee, the Florida Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association, and the Miami international trade community, we would like to express our concerns regarding the potential damage sequestration may cause to both the US perishables community and gateway ports such as Miami.  Currently, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the Miami Customs District handles approximately $1 billion in perishables destined for restaurants, hotels, schools, and homes across the nation. This trade also supports tens of thousands of jobs.
Because of the limited shelf life and time sensitivity related to delivery of these products, perishables must be inspected in an efficient and timely manner. Cuts to CBP staffing will harm our nation's economy. With the imminent furlough of CBP workers, there is a significant possibility that fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, and other products will face time delays at South Florida ports, damaging products and negatively affecting importers, merchants, and consumers alike.
We implore Congress and the Administration to work together to address the continued safe and efficient processing of perishables by CPB.  We cannot afford to have staff reductions slow the supply chain of perishable products from ship to market.  The toll on our state and nation would be immediate and severe.
We know that protecting national security is the number one priority for CBP, but we hope that if sequestration continues, you will take proper actions to find a way to ensure the processing of perishables receives your utmost consideration. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.  
CC: Florida Congressional Delegation
        Office of the USTR                  

Florida Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association, Inc.
PH: 305-499-9490
FX: 305-499-9491

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