Shipments of fresh produce from Mexico into the U.S. are likely to be impacted by the U.S. reassignment of up to 750 border guards to assist in processing migrant crossings along the southern border.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) commissioner Kevin McAleenan made the announcement March 27, 2019, saying that importers and exporters should expect to see “a slowdown in the processing of trade.” CBP will be forced to close some processing lanes, potentially in the ports of El Paso, Laredo, Tucson and San Diego. Officials at Nogales, Arizona have also announced a closure of commercial border traffic on Sundays.
The United Fresh Produce Association says that these steps will cause significant harm to growers, wholesale distributors, transportation companies, grocery stores, restaurants and most importantly, American consumers. On behalf of the fresh produce industry and the broad cross-section of members, the association urges political leaders to reconsider these steps that would profoundly interrupt the ability to bring fresh, healthy produce to all Americans. If these actions are implemented, millions of dollars in economic losses can be expected while increasing costs to consumers across North America.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are the most perishable and sensitive to timely inspection and delivery of any farm products. Disruptions of weeks, days or even hours cut supply chains meaning lost wages and lost revenues. Already, inspection delays are being felt from El Paso to San Diego costing farmers, truck drivers and companies of all sizes. In fact, the San Diego Association of Governments and California Department of Transportation have indicated that even an extra 15 minutes of wait time could cause as much as $1 billion in lost productivity and 134,000 lost in jobs annually.
United Fresh says the solution to the immigration problems is not closing the border or slowing commercial traffic, but for Congress and the Administration to work together on real immigration reform. The association urges the nation’s leaders to move forward with sensible reform that ensures a legal workforce for agriculture together with a functional border.
Source: United Fresh Produce Association April 1, 2019 media statement