It seems crazy that President Trump is still considering options to close the U.S.-Mexico border.
I can’t think this talk of a border shutdown will continue, but the avocado market is buying the rumor.
Produce and ag groups are chiming in about their concerns:
PMA statement April 3:
PMA is closely following the developing situation of threatened closures of the U.S.-Mexico border by the U.S. Administration. There are a variety of shifting scenarios that stand to impact the global fresh produce and floral industry.?
On March 27, 2019, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Field Operations announced that they will? be temporarily re-assigning up to 750 CBP officers to Border Patrol Sectors that are experiencing an influx of traffic on the Southwest border. There has been at least one report of the closure of the Mariposa Commercial Facility at the port of Nogales for Sunday service due to the reallocation of CBP resources.
Any of these changes has the potential to significantly disrupt the trade flow of fresh produce and floral imports at the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as possible retaliation by Mexico. Even the threat of closing the border is a detrimental action that impacts the entire produce and floral supply chain in both countries as well as consumers. A break in trade at the border would cause a major disruption in the complex North American supply chain, which could result in limited or no choices for certainproduce and floral products and ultimately higher prices for consumers. Consuming fresh produce is the number one thing that any individual can do to live a healthy, vibrant life. Any delay or closure of the border would undo much of the increased consumption trends that have occurred since the implementation of NAFTA over 20 years ago by providing U.S. consumers with year-round access to fresh produce and floral.
To provide additional context, the National Association for Manufacturers estimates that businesses, including farmers, will lose $726 million every day if the border is closed. PMA believes in free and fair trade, not only to meet consumer preferences but also to ensure a healthier world through an open supply chain.
PMA is actively communicating with our trade association partners throughout North America and to trade and business media to keep stakeholders informed and provide an accurate representation of the impact this situation could have on the produce and floral industries, and ultimately consumers. We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops and will inform and provide guidance to industry members and other stakeholders as additional information becomes available.
PMA has engaged with regional and national media outlets to give perspective on how this will impact the industry and consumers. National press coverage so far has included The Washington Post, PBS Newshour, S&P Global and Time Magazine.
From the American Farm Bureau:
The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging the administration to make sure that any steps undertaken to tighten enforcement at the U.S. border do not create more uncertainty for agricultural producers.
“Right now, farmers and ranchers are toughing it out,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Many of our products are caught up in a trade dispute. Mother Nature has devastated the livelihoods of tens of thousands of producers. Prices for many commodities remain depressed. We are doing the best we can in a very challenging environment.
“While our members support border security, they are increasingly anxious about what ‘closing the border’ might mean for their farms and ranches. This is especially true for growers who have had H-2A applications approved and are expecting their workers to arrive on time, ready to help tend and harvest this year’s crops. We are hopeful the administration will take concrete steps to ensure that H-2A workers can arrive in time for the work that needs to be done.
“If further efforts are undertaken to secure the border, we want to make sure farmers and ranchers are not adversely affected by any of these efforts and that producers who depend on international markets and workers have an assurance that their farm businesses are not jeopardized.”
From the United Fresh Produce Association
On March 27, 2019, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan stated that CBP will be reassigning up to 750 CBP officers from ports of entry along the southern border to assist U.S. Border Patrol with the processing of migrant crossings along the border. Because of the large reassignment of CBP officers, importers and exporters should expect to see “a slowdown in the processing of trade” along the U.S.-Mexico border for an unspecified period. CBP will be forced to close some processing lanes, potentially in the ports of El Paso, Laredo, Tucsonand San Diego. In addition, officials at the port in Nogales, AZ have announced closing commercial border traffic on Sundays.
These steps will cause significant harm to growers, wholesale distributors, transportation companies, grocery stores, restaurants and most importantly, U.S. consumers. On behalf of the fresh produce industry and the broad cross-section of members we represent, we urge the Administration to reconsider these steps that would profoundly interrupt our ability to bring fresh, healthy produce to all Americans. If these actions are implemented, the Administration will cause millions in economic losses 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. Infact the San Diego Association of Governments and California Department of Transportation have indicated that even an extra 15 minutes of wait time could generate as much as $1 billion in lost productivity and 134,000 lost in jobs annually.
The solution to our immigration problems is not closing the border or slowing commercial traffic, but for Congress and the Administration to work together on real immigration reform. That is why our association continues to call upon our nation’s leaders to get on with sensible reform that ensures a legal workforce for agriculture together with a functional border.