Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will leave Sunday for Panama City, Panama, on a three-day mission that will include seeking to expand Florida growers’ access to the Central American nation. Also, the mission will include reviewing trade opportunities with the expansion of the Panama Canal and evaluating a pilot program that is expected to prevent invasive pests from entering Florida on shipments of fresh produce.
The delegation for Putnam’s first trade mission includes Bill Johnson, director of PortMiami; Robert Behr, chief operating officer of Florida’s Natural Growers; Gary Wishnatzki, owner of Wish Farms in Plant City; and officials from Putnam’s department.
The delegation will tour the canal zone Monday before meeting with U.S. Ambassador Jonathan Farrar and other officials at the U.S. Embassy in Panama. On Tuesday, the delegation is scheduled to meet with senior administration officials in Panama, including Minister of Agriculture Oscar Osorio and Vice Minister of Trade Jose Pacheco. The widening of the canal is expected to be completed in 2015, allowing the massive post-Panamax ships to traverse the isthmus.