UF Says Border Shutdown Would Create Economic Uncertainty for Produce Industry

UF Says Border Shutdown Would Create Economic Uncertainty for Produce Industry

United Fresh encourages broader discussion on reforming the immigration system for path forward.

April 3, 2019

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, Tucson and San Diego. In addition, officials at the port in Nogales, Ariz., 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, according to the United Fresh Produce Association. On behalf of the fresh produce industry and the broad cross-section of members we represent, United Fresh urged the Administration to reconsider these steps that would profoundly interrupt the ability to bring in fresh produce, adding that 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 perishable and sensitive to timely inspection and delivery of any farm products. Disruptions of weeks, days, or even hours cut supply chains, leading to 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, United Fresh said, adding, 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.

  United Fresh continues to call upon the nation’s leaders to get on with sensible reform that ensures a legal workforce for agriculture together with a functional border, stating that the solution to the immigration problems is not closing the border or slowing commercial traffic, but for Congress and the Administration to work together on real immigration reform.