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Trump’s Threat to Shutdown Southern Border Puts the Food Industry at Risk

Trump’s Threat to Shutdown Southern Border Puts the Food Industry at Risk

The potential shutdown is reported to impact $137 billion dollars’ worth of US food imports.

President Trump has made claims to shut down the US southern border completely, in the midst of an ongoing political battle with Mexico over illegal immigration and the caravan of Central American migrants headed north.

The potential shutdown is reported to impact $137 billion dollars’ worth of US food imports.

The country relies heavily on trade with Mexico for fresh produce, including 40 percent of its fruits and half of its vegetables, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Many of those seasonal fruits and vegetables are ripe and ready for the picking, but if the shutdown becomes a reality, Americans can expect to be starved of some of their favorite food items.

In an interview with Reuters Steve Barnard, President and CEO of Mission Produce says Americans would run out of avocados for three weeks if imports from Mexico came to a stop.

“You couldn’t pick a worse time of year because Mexico supplies virtually 100 percent of the avocados in the U.S. right now. California is just starting and they have a very small crop, but they’re not relevant right now and won’t be for another month or so,” he said.

Avocados specifically have become popular among many Americans due to its superfood reputation and decadent buttercream texture. This has led the item to be featured on almost half of US restaurant menus nationwide.

Although the shutdown at the border isn’t official yet, trade groups are already starting to feel the pressure.

The United Fresh Produce Association released a media statement saying tensions at the border alone are slowing down processing inspections for fresh produce. This is due to the 750 Custom and Border Protection officers being relocated from ports and entry to help assist US border patrol with migrant crossings.

The relocation of officers will slow down the processing of trade, which in turn will affect food retailers, suppliers and consumers and could even result in a complete shutdown of processing lanes used to inspect imported fruits and vegetables at El Paso, Laredo, Tuscon and San Diego.

“Already, inspection delays are being felt from El Paso to San Diego costing farmers, truck drivers and companies of all sizes. In fact, 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 United  Fresh Produce Association states.

In addition to suppliers experiencing financial turmoil, consumers can expect to start paying a premium for their produce. Since threats of the shutdown were made, some avocado prices have risen. According to Bloomberg, the Mexican production line known as Hass Avocados increased by 34 percent last Tuesday, creating the biggest single-day jump in over a decade.

In addition to avocados, Reuters also reported other fresh produce such as tomatoes, cucumbers, blackberries and raspberries are expected to be affected, leaving many staple food products susceptible to skyrocketing prices.

As of now, Trump’s political agenda seems unpredictable, but in the meantime, the rest of America will likely be watching closely, as they wait in anticipation for his next move.