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Pharr International Bridge commits $100,000 towards inspection grant program

In an effort to increase the efficiency of produce inspection time and improve the flow of commerce at the Pharr International Bridge, Pharr officials are pleased to announce that the Bridge has committed $100,000 towards the “Trade Agricultural Inspection Grant Program,” which will result in matching funds being drawn from the state program to cover the cost of additional hours worked by Custom and Border Patrol Agricultural Inspection Specialists. 

The Trade Agricultural Inspection Program was created during the 84th Legislature by State Representative R.D. "Bobby" Guerra as House Bill (H.B.) 797 and the companion Senate Bill (S.B.) 979 was carried by State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa. The focus of this legislation was aimed at creating a grant program to reduce wait times for agricultural inspections at the ports of entry along the TexasMexico border. Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 797 into passage, securing $725,000 for Ag Inspectors for the 2016 - 2017 biennium. 

The grant program is administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture and distributed to a local nonprofit that has experience working with border inspection authorities to reduce border crossing wait times. The designated nonprofit for the program at the Pharr International Bridge is South Texas Assets Consortium, who is responsible for using the grant money along with matching industry and local municipality dollars to help pay for additional border agricultural inspectors or pay overtime to inspectors along the border. By leveraging private investment as well as state money, it is estimated that the grant program will generate more than ten times the return on investment in economic growth here in Texas. 

“In Pharr, we are constantly looking for innovative ways to improve our service delivery and operations, and this collaborative effort between our federal, state, and local governments, nonprofit agencies and private companies, is a creative and viable solution that will reduce inspection time for produce crossing at our bridge,” said Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, M.D. 

Pharr International Bridge Director Luis Bazan concurred. “We are proud to be the only commercial bridge leading the way with this ambitious endeavor, which adds value to the agriculture industry as we get fresh fruits and vegetables to the consumer on time and with that just-picked-from-the-tree freshness,” Bazan stated. 

“The fact that the Pharr Bridge has committed more than $100,000 to help pay for additional hours of coverage by federal CBP Ag Specialists will help drive positive economic impact to our region and state,” said Bret Erickson, President and CEO of Texas International Produce Association. “More importantly, Pharr is helping to provide hundreds of millions of U.S. consumers with affordable, fresh, and healthy produce. We commend the City of Pharr, especially Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, City Manager Juan Guerra, and the rest of the Pharr team in leading by example and investing in the trade community.” 

More than 60 percent of the fresh produce imported from Mexico crosses the City of Pharr International Bridge. Being the only full-service commercial bridge in the region means more services, infrastructure, personnel, and technology to get produce loads processed at the point of entry. The construction and completion of the new Mazatlan-Matamoros super highway, also dubbed Supervía, has resulted in this increase for services at the Pharr International Bridge.

“As a produce company, we know that time is money, and we applaud the City of Pharr leaders for their continued commitment to increasing the ease and speed by which our goods are transported through the port of entry,” said Tony Martinez, General Sales Manager for Wonderful Citrus and Pharr International Bridge Board Member. 

It is estimated that trucks hauling produce and entering the Pharr port of entry can save as much as 600 to 700 miles of travel when delivering to Midwest and eastern U.S. and Canadian markets. Connecting Mazatlán and Sinaloa, Mexico to Pharr, Texas, this new route for produce transportation provides a more direct route to receivers. It also saves between $1,000 to $3,000 in fuel costs, depending on the price of diesel, and nearly 16 hours in travel time round-trip. Not only has this highway increased the transportation time of goods from Mexico into the United States, but also more importantly, it has focused on getting a majority of them imported directly through the Pharr International Bridge. 

Earning its designation as one of the most important U.S.-Mexican border ports of entry, the Pharr Reynosa International Bridge is experiencing exponential growth in traffic, which is forecasted to increase into the future. Pharr’s plans to accommodate anticipated future growth include increasing the size of its cold inspection facility, increasing dock capacity, and the addition of an agriculture laboratory and training facility. 

For more information:
Karina Cardoza 
Pharr International Bridge
Tel: +1 956 343 0011 
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