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$240M in produce losses blamed on truck delays at US-Mexico border

Texas governor ends inspections that clogged commercial border trade

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s increased inspections of trucks created hourslong wait times for commercial traffic at key U.S.-Mexico border crossings and resulted in hundreds of millions in lost revenue because of spoiled produce, trade experts said.

Abbott ended his policy of increased inspections of commercial trucks arriving from Mexico on Friday after reaching migrant border security agreements with governors of nearby Mexican states.

About $9 billion of fresh produce crosses the Texas border from Mexico each year, said Dante Galeazzi, CEO and president of the McAllen, Texas-based International Produce Association of Texas.

“The execution of this order has wreaked havoc up and down our supply chain and is likely to leave state store shelves with limited fresh produce supplies,” Galeazzi said in a statement.

Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas in Nogales, Arizona, said losses to fresh fruit and vegetable importers/producers are estimated to be more than $240 million because it rotted in trucks waiting to cross the border during the more than weeklong Texas state-run checkpoints.

End consumers will likely pay a higher price for produce at the supermarket as importers look to recoup some of their losses, Jungmeyer said.

“It’s a bad time to be adding this to consumers’ pockets to pay out of their pocketbook,” Jungmeyer told CNN.

Francisco Javier García Cabeza de Vaca, the governor of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, was the latest Mexican official to announce a security agreement with Abbott. On Friday, García Cabeza de Vaca said Tamaulipas has created a plan aimed at slowing migrant crossings from Mexico into the Lone Star State.

Tamaulipas was the fourth Mexican state to reach a migrant security agreement last week with Abbott. Other Mexican states reaching agreements were Chihuahua, Coahuila and Nuevo León, which all share borders with Texas. 

Abbott said the increased border security measures — which were carried out by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) — were aimed at stopping migrants crossing into the state illegally. 

The state-run commercial checkpoints began April 6 at U.S.-Mexico border crossings in Laredo, El Paso, Pharr and Eagle Pass.

The inspections were on top of those already conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Border Patrol.

As of Friday, the Texas DPS had not reported any drugs seized or migrants apprehended as a result of the state-run inspections.

Protesting long wait times of up to 15 hours, Mexico-based truck drivers blocked commercial traffic briefly last week on the Mexican side of the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge and the Ysleta-Zaragoza International Bridge in El Paso. Border crossings in El Paso, Pharr and Laredo routinely take about 30 to 50 minutes.

Watch: FreightWaves’ shipper update for April 18.

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact nmahoney@freightwaves.com