FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 06/01/2015
TRADE AGRICULTURAL INSPECTION PROGRAM SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR
Legislation provides adequate funding for agricultural inspectors at ports of entry
AUSTIN, TX – Recently, State Representative R.D. "Bobby" Guerra (McAllen) passed in the Texas House Senate Bill (S.B.) 797, the companion to House Bill (H.B.) 979, creating a grant program to reduce wait times for agricultural inspections at the ports of entry along the Texas-Mexico border. Late yesterday evening, Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 797 into passage, securing $725,000 for ag inspectors for 2016-17 biennium.
In 2014, more than 170,000 truckloads of produce crossed into Texas from Mexico. This number is expected to grow even larger as the “superhighway” between Mazatlán and Matamoros begins transporting fresh produce from the West coast of Mexico along the Texas border. Because of staffing shortages at our ports of entry, trucks transporting produce experience long periods of delay or do not make it through the inspection process, thereby lowering the shelf life and damaging quality which negatively impacts the bottom line for Texas importers.
SB 797 will help more trucks to be processed at our international bridges by creating the “Trade Agricultural Inspection Grant Program.” This grant program would be administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture and distributed to a nonprofit that has experience working with border inspection authorities to reduce border crossing wait times. This nonprofit would use 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.
Representative Guerra issued the following statement:
“Investing in the produce import industry is imperative for Texas. These ports of entry promote sustainable job growth in the surrounding communities, attract more businesses to invest in our state; and most importantly, will bolster the Texas economy. This bill keeps Texas on an equal playing field with the rest of the global trade industry. I want to personally thank Sen. Lucio, Sen. Hinojosa, Rep. Munoz and Rep. Lucio III for working together on this very important piece of legislation.”
SB 797’s success was in large part a collaborative effort. Rep. Guerra and staff worked tirelessly with the Department of Agriculture, the Committee of Agricultural & Livestock; input from local stakeholders and had constant communication with colleagues from both aisles in the House and Senate Chambers.
“This bill’s final passage took a lot of persistence throughout session. I am very proud of all of our hard work and am happy with the bill’s final outcome, “stated Rep. Guerra.
Contact: Aisa Showery