Pharr Tackles International Bridge FDA Inspector Shortage

Local city officials are taking on strategic measures to ensure a smooth transition into incoming traffic from the new Mazatlan-Durango superhighway, scheduled to open this fall. According to the produce association, Pharr’s high priority challenge is to address the lack of agricultural specialists in the Rio Grande Valley.

A common occurrence in fresh produce transportation is the discovery of an unidentifiable insect. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agricultural inspectors must transfer a specimen sample to a specialized FDA inspector. With only eight in Hidalgo County, travel time often results in more than an hour loss.

During the regular state legislative session earlier this year, the produce association and several local businesses pushed a bill to tackle the agricultural specialist deficiency. The bill promoted the use of local resources like the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service to train local individuals already in the field.  State legislators decided upon studying the issue further before agreeing to tap into state reserves. The verdict has hindered the training of local specialist to federal standards, leaving local business leaders searching for alternatives.

Still, city officials and economic development leaders are confident in their search for a solution to accommodate for increased traffic in the fall. The introduction of a superhighway, coupled with the current Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge commercial truck traffic, will drive the region’s economy. Supply and demand economics will eventually increase as traffic picks up, so will the need for more agricultural specialists.

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