Long truck delays in Texas still hampering Mexican produce shipments
Though Mexico-based truckers ended their three-day blockade of two Texas ports of entry on Wednesday, April 13, that was not the initial problem and it has not solved the long delays.
“The blockade ended last night,” said Dante Galeazzi, president and CEO of the Texas International Produce Association, relaying a slight bit of good news. “But DPS (the Texas Department of Public Safety) is still conducting safety tests on 100 percent of the trucks and there are still millions of dollars of produce stuck on the Mexican side of the border.”
On Thursday, Galeazzi said truck traffic has resumed but only at a snail’s pace. “Trucks are only trickling through,” he said. “There was no traffic for three days and now just a few trucks are getting through.”
He noted that on average about $30 million worth of fresh produce cross the Pharr Bridge each day. “There has been very little traffic for five days so there is about $150 million of produce trapped on the other side. Some of that is not going to be salvageable. I think there will be some outages on supermarket shelves. There is still a lot of product (at this time of the year) that originates in Mexico and is not available from anywhere else.”
Galeazzi revealed that there are rumors that Texas Governor Greg Abbott is meeting with governors of Mexico’s border states “and maybe we will hear tomorrow that the problem has been solved. We can only hope.”
The TIPA executive said the governor’s office has not yet responded to inquiries from the produce industry officials concerning the situation.
There are 14 bridges that serve as ports of entry for trucks traveling from Mexico into the United States, with half of them equipped to handle agricultural imports. The two bridges with the most traffic — in Pharr and El Paso — were the ones being blockaded by Mexico-based drivers, who were attempting to shine a light on the situation and presumably create pressure on the Texas governor.
Gov. Abbott did not announce the specific reason for increasing the inspections to 100 percent of trucks from the previous rule, which was “random” inspections. The governor is known for his fiery rhetoric concerning both migrants and contraband coming into the United States through Texas. He reportedly wants Mexico officials to do more to stem the flow. Truck traffic is not considered a major contributor to the flow of migrants nor contraband, according to Galeazzi.