Produce Association says more than just avocados could be lost if border closes

President Donald Trump could close the southern border, and it could mean price increases for more than just avocados.

"The $610 billion trade relationship…it's at risk, both on the import side as well as the export side," said Angelos Angelou, founder and CEO of Angelou Economics and Austin economist.

"The most important impact is on the retail trade between border towns and Mexico," Angelou said. "Although some of that reaches all the way to Austin. Many of the shoppers at the outlet mall in San Marcos are from Mexico."

Angelou says a closure would have devastating impacts particularly on border communities, but elsewhere in the country as well. He says the Midwest is dependent on auto parts from Mexico and jobs are on the line.

"Particularly the temporary work force that comes every year to work in U.S. farms so there is potential of negatively impacting 5 million jobs in the U.S.," he said. 

Angelou said that closing the border and losing Mexico and the rest of Latin America as a trading partner could throw the U.S. economy into a recession.

The Texas Association of Business sent a statement saying one in five jobs in the Lone Star State are dependent on trade. They say in Laredo alone, around 16,000 trucks and 1400 rail cars cross the border every day.  

"We ask our state and federal leaders along with our border communities to stand-up for what is right for our state and let the administration know by closing the U.S.-Mexico border, the economic consequence will be immediate and severe to our great state and the entire nation," said CEO & president Jeff Moseley.

Avocados have been a widely-discussed possible casualty of the closure.

"That would be absolutely detrimental to the fresh produce industry," Dante Galeazzi, President and CEO of Texas International Produce Association said of a potential closure of the border

Galeazzi says about $14 billion worth of fresh fruits and vegetables are imported from Mexico to the U.S., about $7 billion just to Texas, and more than just avocadoes are at stake.

Galeazzi said Mexico is also a big producer of mangos and especially limes. Tomatoes, broccoli, watermelons, papayas, bananas, pineapples, and coconut are also imported.

Some avocados are grown in states like California and even in Texas, but Galeazzi said that's not enough to keep the supply matching the demand.

"There's probably enough avocadoes grown in Texas that you could supply a few HEB's, I'm talking less than 10 for a little while," Galeazzi said, "certainly not in the numbers that we consume avocados here in the country."

Galeazzi said if a closure happens, the industry will immediately feel the effects and consumers will immediately feel it in the pocketbook. Then in just a matter of weeks, produce will get scarce.

"There's pockets of product not available on store shelves," Galeazzi said. "They're going to see those options on menus where the items have been crossed off and prices are going to start to jump really quickly."

One local produce company said they are already feeling a price hike. Another, "Farmhouse Delivery" says they get their avocados from in Texas down in the valley. They say it will shrink supply and prices will go up but the Texas crop is a good thing to fall back on.