PHARR, Texas – Although traffic is moving along after Texas DPS inspections came to an end at most ports of entries at the U.S. Mexico-border last week, consumers will likely feel the consequences at the groceries stores for some time.
On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott in partnership with Tamaulipas Gov. Javier García Cabeza de Vaca, signed the fourth memorandum to scale back DPS inspections for all commercial vehicles.
The agreement came days after drivers of 18-wheelers blocked the entrance in Mexico to the Pharr International Bridge.
“It was in response to the conditions they suffered during the weekend,” said Dante Galeazzi, president of Texas International Produce Association or TIPA. According to Galeazzi, TIPA educates, advocates, promotes and represents on behalf of the $10 billion of fresh produce (industry) grown in the state of Texas or considers Texas its first point of arrival for domestic distribution.
“By Sunday, we had reports that it was taking 36 hours for them to cross the bridge,” Galeazzi said. “Now, what’s important that a lot of people may not think about is the international ramifications are that those truckers cannot leave their vehicles. So, for 36 hours, where do they go to the restroom? Where do they get food? How do they put more fuel in that truck and the refrigeration unit?”
TIPA estimates $30 million worth of fresh produce crosses the Texas-Mexico border on a normal day. However, that number plummeted last week.
“Just in five days, that’s $150 million of fresh produce that’s left on the other side. That’s $18 million of economic production to the state alone,” Galeazzi said. “And it’s unrecoverable because it’s not like wrenches or widgets where if there’s five days of delays that widget or ranch hasn’t lost its value. Fresh produce… is perishable. It has a shelf life.”
And while the Mexican truckers in Reynosa ended the blockade Wednesday afternoon and Abbott signed the memorandum Friday, Galeazzi said it’s an unrecoverable loss that’s affected distribution patterns and the pocketbooks of families in the US.
“The Costco’s, the Walmarts, the Kroger’s, the Albertsons, they all come here every single day to get the fresh produce at consumers throughout this country,” Galeazzi said. “It is important to consider that once these inspections return to normal levels, it is still going to take days, if not weeks, for the supply chain to return to normal levels. Because with fresh produce, those backups create impacts on the field.”