Texas governor Greg Abbott recently signed a bill aiming to speed up the inspection process for trucks carrying fresh produce across ports-of-entries along the Texas-Mexico border.
Texas House Bill 2155, which goes into effect September 1, reauthorizes a 2015 program allowing the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) to award grants totaling $750,000 over the next two years to select organizations to pay for the hiring and overtime of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers performing inspections on fresh produce imports from Mexico.
The program then allows cities and private companies that paid CBP for overtime to receive reimbursement from the federal government, or use the grant money to reimburse the CBP.
“It is important that we efficiently and safely move perishable goods through our ports of entry to keep the cost of produce low for Texans while boosting the economy by encouraging trade with Mexico,” said State Rep. Bobby Guerra, (D-McAllen), who authored and helped pass the bill.
As reported by freightwaves.com, the value of U.S. imports of fresh fruits and vegetables from Mexico was $12.1 billion in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Trade statistics from the USDA also show that U.S. imports of fresh produce from Central American countries was $2.94 billion in 2018.