FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 02/03/2015
REPRESENTATIVE R.D. "BOBBY" GUERRA FILES BILL TO CREATE GRANT PROGRAM
To Reduce Wait Times At Ports Of Entry
AUSTIN, TX –State Representative R.D. "Bobby" Guerra (McAllen) filed HB 979, creating a grant program to reduce wait times for agricultural inspections at the ports of entry along the Texas-Mexico border.
HB 979 would allow local governments and private companies to help pay for over time and or increased agricultural inspectors at international bridges during peak times. The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) would monitor and contract the grant recipients to make sure they are in compliance with state laws. Similar partnerships have been successfully implemented in the El Paso and Laredo ports of entries.
More than $100 million in economic output is lost per minute during bridge delays at the nation’s five busiest southern ports, which includes Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, according to a 2013 U.S. Department of Commerce study. With the completion of the Mazatlán-Matamoros Super Highway, South Texas trade traffic is also expected to substantially increase from 62% to 128% by 2020.
During the interim period, the Agriculture and Livestock committee held a hearing in McAllen over Rep. Guerra’s then feasibility study on the creation of a border agricultural inspection training program, HB 3761. The committee’s findings concluded favorably on Rep. Guerra’s new approach of forming partnerships with industry groups and state and local governments that can potentially contribute to fund more inspectors at ports of entry.
“Texas has a keen interest in ensuring that imported produce is processed safely and securely, and that is reaches the marketplace in a timely manner. Unsustainable bridge wait times and staff shortages are bad for business and consumers in Texas. Implementing this partnership is a step in the right direction to providing the produce industry relief, increased food security, and helps ensure the economy continues to prosper,” Guerra said.
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