New Texas law should shorten port of entry wait times

August 30, 2019

Keith Goble

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A new law in Texas addresses wait times for certain loads at ports of entry.

The rule addresses the increase in trade traffic along the Texas-Mexico border. The new law is touted to aid perishable loads crossing into South Texas.

The new law reauthorizes a grant program for nonprofits to reduce wait times for agricultural inspections at ports of entry along the Texas-Mexico border. A 2015 grant approved by the Texas Legislature provided $625,000 to help shorten wait times and eliminate backups.

Specifically, this year’s reauthorization calls for allowing local governments to help pay for overtime and/or increased agricultural inspectors at international bridges during peak times. The total amount of grants awarded could not exceed $725,000 for the next two years.

The Texas Department of Agriculture will be responsible for monitoring and contracting the grant recipients to ensure compliance with state laws.

During a recent 12-month period more than 170,000 truckloads of produce crossed into Texas from Mexico. Advocates say the number will continue to grow as the Mazatlan-Matamoros superhighway transports more fresh produce from the western Mexico coast along the Texas border.

Due to staffing shortages at the state’s ports of entry, Rep. Bobby Guerra, D-McAllen, has said trucks transporting produce experience delays and long wait times or do not make it through the inspection process. As a result, the shelf life is lowered, which hurts the bottom line for Texas importers.

Guerra also said that investing in the produce import industry is imperative for Texas.

Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said in previous remarks his agency will get the money “where it needs to go.” He highlighted border cities that include McAllen and El Paso “to get this backlog cleared.”

The program implementation date is Sept. 1. It will need to be renewed in two years.

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.