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Miami suppliers take regulation bullet for customers

Regulations and legislation continue evolving, but those in the South Florida produce industry see it as a priority to keep their employees and customers all on the same page.

“I never look at it as a negative effect,” says Frank A. Ramos, president of customs broker, The Perishable Specialist Inc., Miami. “It’s our job to make sure our customers are up to date on regulations and the flow continues to go seamlessly.”

One of these changes is the cost of federal fumigations, which go up every Dec. 28.

“It’s a treatment fee they’ve put in place, and it’s phased into a five-year plan for anything treated through USDA, so there will be another increase this year,” he said late in the year.

Ramos makes sure his customers are well educated on the topic, as well as any other regulatory changes coming down the pike.

“We have great relationships with government agencies in South Florida,” he says. “We have a great co-op crew down here with meetings every month that are open to all people involved, where we receive updates and it’s a venue to develop relationships.”

As national brokers who clear in every state, he emphasizes that this camaraderie and communication is different from the other ports. “South Florida is the best,” he says.

Pat Compres, CEO of Advance Customs Brokers & Consulting, LLC in Miami, has felt the impact of ongoing changes related to the Automated Commercial Environment system used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for shipments.

Security, too, has been enhanced at ports, which Compres says, “even though it does not necessarily affect us directly, it affects our importers as they may experience delays because of U.S. Customs holds.”

In addition, the USDA’s Cold Treatment Pilot Project is influencing shipping patterns.

“We see more and more cargo being redirected to the southern ports,” Compres says, including Miami and Port Everglades, as well as more arrivals into Savannah, GA.

Another significant regulatory impact revolves around transportation.

“Freight is the big thing after electronic log books,” says Cruz Castillo, salesman for Jalaram Produce Inc., Homestead, FL.

He says the reverberations are just beginning to reach Jalaram Produce.

“We haven’t seen a huge effect yet, but with more strict regulations for transportation, it affects one of two things: time or cost.”

In response, there’s been tinkering with schedules but bottom line, Castillo contends, it comes down to choosing between being flexible or paying a more for on-time deliveries. And if on-time is a must, then it may be necessary to pay for a team instead of a solo driver.

This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full article.