“We lose our import deal basically in the next few weeks,” Fawcett said March 29. “Memorial Day is the domestic crop.”
It’s not easy to stay in the ground in Texas, however. Competition for land is tough with urbanization and the regulations imposed upon the industry.
“It takes three people to farm 1,000 acres of corn and you get the same return as you’d get for 100 people and 1,000 acres of watermelons,” he said. “And they don’t have to worry about ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) or food safety or labor.”
Food safety a priority
With the Food Safety Modernization Act becoming a reality, many grower-shippers are establishing a new mindset revolving around food safety.
At Progreso Produce Ltd., Boerne, Texas, that means getting Global Food Safety Initiative-certified in all facilities.
“It’s a continuing process, a new structure set up for food safety for us,” said Curtis DeBerry, president and owner. “That will be a continuing upgrade every month. I think the industry has no choice but to go that way. You can’t just dress up and have a one-day inspection.”
Fawcett said food safety is more than just audits nowadays.
“It’s easier to get the mindset and get in a rhythm instead of get all hunkered down to get ready for a test,” he said. “You can’t slack off in the off-season.”