The Florida Ports Council held a Fly-In with their cruise industry partners in Washington D.C. on March 12 and 13. Port and cruise representatives met with members of Florida’s congressional delegation, and other House and Senate leadership representatives. The group also provided testimony on March 12 to the Florida Congressional Port Caucus chaired by Congresswoman Wilson, Congressman Posey, Congresswoman Frankel, and Congressman Diaz-Balart. The meeting was well attended by Florida delegation members serving on appropriation, transportation, and agriculture committees. Representatives from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Department of Agriculture provided the Caucus members and all attendees with updates on their respective issues.
Florida port directors and representatives had the opportunity to discuss a variety of issues with the Caucus members and other leadership in D.C. These issues included:
- Ensuring that federal regulations and investments allow for Florida seaports to operate under the same types of policies as other seaports in the U.S.
- Continuing to review U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations are the same treatment and cost in Florida. There is no reason that the treatment of agriculture products should have a different cost and method at the Port of Savannah Georgia, only 139 miles from the Florida border, than at a Florida seaport. This includes permanently authorizing and expanding the cold treatment pilot program that was successfully initiated at Florida seaports in October 2013.
- Improve passenger and cargo clearance operations at our seaports. This includes congressional oversight over efforts to ensure that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency works with Florida seaports and stakeholders on issues such as personnel, screening equipment, and facility space requirements.
- Expand and improve federal investments in Florida’s (and this nation’s) seaports. Florida seaports support the full utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for congressionally approved harbor navigational and maintenance projects. Florida seaports also thanked Congressman Diaz Balart for his efforts to create the new Port Infrastructure Development grant program.
Florida seaports will continue to work with the congressional delegation to ensure that Florida remains the place to connect commerce in Florida and beyond.