South Texas’ economic growth is booming in large part because of the NAFTA treaty, in Dante Galeazzi’s view.

This viewpoint is that of the CEO/President of the Texas International Produce Association, in Mission, TX. TIPA is the acronym used by a group evolving from deep roots as a Texas producer growers association. With huge Mexican produce import growth coming to South Texas distribution facilities, Texan industry leaders had the foresight to integrate Mexican imports into their marketing vision. 

Thus, Galeazzi’s perspective on the matter is powerful. 

Dante Galeazzi, president and CEO of the Texas International ProduceAssociation in Mission, TX, notes the strong geographic position of SouthTexas as a receiving point for Mexican fresh produce.

And how does he feel about the new USMCA treaty? Simply put, he refers to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement as “NAFTA 2.0.”

These treaties by any name are certainly a rose for Texas.

They have “been a major economic driver for South Texas in many regards,” Galeazzi said. “Automotive, manufacturing and energy are all industries whose growth during USMCA/NAFTA benefited South Texas, as did the growth of the fresh produce industry.”

Galeazzi cites a 2021 Wilson Center report indicating from 1993 to 2013, the growth of agricultural trade between Mexico, Canada and the U.S. grew 255 percent, from little over $16 billion to $82 billion. “For Mexico, their fruit and vegetable sector has been a major success story,” Galeazzi stressed of the report’s data.

He also notes USDA AMS Market News’ border crossing figures, which show that in 2007, Mexico exported – by truck – to the U.S. almost 261,000 truckloads (40,000-pound equivalent) of fresh produce. In 2021, that figure had grown to 602,000. “Texas has been the primary recipient of that growth, during the same period increasing from 101,000 truckloads to more than 320,000 – more than half the total volume of trucks importing fresh produce from Mexico.”

Galeazzi observes, “This growth has played an important role in developing the infrastructure for the fresh produce industry in South Texas. Cities have focused on attracting builders specializing in cold storage facilities, state and local planners have put in place over-weight corridors to facilitate international inbounds, federal authorities have grown local personnel to accommodate the growth of these imports, and industry has played a major role in helping to shape various policies to support the efficient inbound flow of fresh produce. But imports have not been the only winner. Domestically grown Texas produce has become an important part of this growth as well.”  

He elaborates: “As logistics expenses continue to climb, labor shortages limit availability of truck drivers, and grocery stores and restaurants look to capitalize on the ‘local’ food trends, South Texas has leveraged the existing fruit and vegetable industry into a combo-model that incorporates domestic and internationally grown into a single region. Within a 30-mile radius, North American chain buyers can access Mexico-grown and Texas-grown produce nearly year-round, limiting their transportation costs and filling out their grocery lists. Plus, the geographical location of South Texas makes it far more cost effective as a loading point to service the Midwest, Southeast and Northeast than a loading point in California or Arizona. This keeps costs down and product fresher for consumers and stores and continues to make South Texas an optimal location for fresh produce procurement – thanks to USMCA/NAFTA.”