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Trump's Threat to Close Border Stirs Fear of Fruit, Vegetable Shortages

04-02-2019

If President Donald Trump does shut down the US-Mexico border as he threatened on Friday, economists predict the implications on goods and services could echo across the country.

They say such a move would especially affect the flow of fruits and vegetables Americans enjoy every day, namely avocados, cucumbers, tomatoes, and berries.

A shortage would directly affect avocado lovers since the US imports about 80 percent of its total supply from Mexico.

Steve Barnard, chief executive and president of Mission Produce, the largest grower and distributor of avocados in the world, said Americans could run out of avocados in as little as three weeks following a shutdown at the border, Reuters reported.

"We would be out of business for a while," Barnard said.

If a shutdown is executed, Mission Produce wouldn't be able to supply the US with any of the green, creamy fruit. 

More than 60 percent of all Mexican winter produce consumed in the US crosses into the country at Nogales, Arizona. 

The winter produce season is especially heavy right now, with the import of Mexican-grown watermelons, grapes, and squash, said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.

Approximately 11,000 to 12,000 commercial trucks cross the border at Nogales daily, laden with about 50 million pounds of produce such as eggplants, tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, cucumbers, and berries, he said. 

Economists predict a closing of the border would lead to immediate layoffs and result in shortages and price increases at grocery stores and restaurants.

"If this happens — and I certainly hope it doesn't — I'd hate to go into a grocery store four or five days later and see what it looks like," Jungmeyer said.

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