June 26, 2022

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Texans to see ’empty store shelves’ this weekend due to Abbott border inspections

3 min read

Texans will start seeing empty shelves at grocery stores this weekend due to delays caused by Gov. Greg Abbott’s increased border inspections of commercial trucks entering from Mexico. Roughly $150 million worth of fruit and vegetables were stalled south of the U.S.-Mexico border, the Texas International Produce Association reported Thursday.  

Delivery of fresh produce such as avocados, limes, tomatoes, cucumbers and mangoes were halted by the congestion of commercial trucks. TIPA chief executive Dante Galeazzi told the Washington Post consumers will start seeing empty store shelves this weekend in the fresh fruits and vegetable departments.

“Further, it will take at least a week if not longer after a resolution is in place before the supply chain can correct itself,” Galeazzi said. “That means outages will persist even beyond the time a solution is implemented.” The impacts will also be felt nationwide, with the Midwest and East Coast being hit first, according to Galeazzi. 

Locally, Houstonians will also start to see higher prices, according to Brent Erenwert, CEO of Brothers Produce, Houston’s largest produce company. “It’s a rat race, at the end of the day,” Erenwert told KHOU 11. “And when it affects the biggest people, it’s going to trickle down all the way.”

Erenwert’s company receives truckloads of fresh fruit and vegetables from Mexico daily, which he says is usually convenient and fast. However, the company has had to re-route its business to Arizona to circumvent the disruptions. Erenwert described the current situation to KHOU 11 as a “a train wreck.”

“This supply chain’s been broke,” Erenwert told KHOU. “These products are going to cost the farmers a lot of money. Truckers a lot of labor. And ultimately, a lot of food waste is going to come out of this.”

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Last week, Abbott ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety to increase inspections of commercial vehicles crossing the state’s southern border in order to combat an “anticipated rise in cartel-facilitated smuggling via unsafe vehicles upon the end of Title 42 expulsions.” 

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller warned that delays would trigger food shortages and increase the price of produce. Harris County Democratic Chair Odus Evbagharu Thursday called price hikes from supply chain issues caused by Abbott’s border inspections the “Abbott Supply-Chain Surcharge,” or “A.S.S. tax.” 

“Because of the governor’s political games, consumers will be forced to pay an ‘Abbott Supply Chain Surcharge’ on goods, and the A.S.S. tax is going to take a chunk out of all our wallets,” Evbagharu said. “Abbott’s latest political stunt comes at a high cost and demonstrates — once again — that the governor has utter disregard for the lives and livelihoods of Texans.”

However, there might be some signs of relief soon. Abbott is scheduled to meet with the governor of Tamaulipas Friday afternoon to discuss an agreement to halt the new commercial vehicle checks at the border.

On Tuesday, Abbott signed an agreement with the governor of Nuevo León to lift additional inspections in Laredo, according to the Texas Tribune. Thursday evening, Abbott made a similar agreement with the governors of Chihuahua and Coahuila.



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