A country without avocados and tequila does not sound like a fun place to be.
I suppose that is a true “first-world problem,” but it could be a reality if President Trump closes the Mexican border.
If losing your guacamole and margaritas isn’t enough to upset you, rising grocery costs and shrinking trade markets might be.
President Trump is threatening to completely shut down the Mexican border in an effort to stop immigrants from crossing into the U.S.
The problem is, this will hurt U.S. consumers more than it will hurt those seeking asylum. Trade experts say that closing the border would cause “immediate economic damage,” which is a pretty scary thought.
More than $600 billion in trade crossed the U.S.-Mexico border last year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Almost half of all imported U.S. vegetables and 40 percent of imported fruit are grown in Mexico, according to the USDA.
Agricultural exports to Mexico totaled $19 billion, and Mexico was the third largest agricultural export market in 2017, according to the U.S. Trade Representative. Mexico relies on the U.S. for dairy products, corn, soybeans, pork and beef.
Because a lot of agricultural trade is done with Mexico, U.S. farmers would feel the pain of the border closure almost immediately.
Experts from the ag industry and immigration services seem to be in agreement that closing the border would hurt the economy and have little effect on the immigration issue. It doesn’t sound like it would accomplish what Trump is aiming to do.
U.S. farmers have enough to worry about with low milk prices, too much rain and flooding, and tariffs that have hurt the ag industry. They really don’t need to lose trade access with Mexico right now.
Some people seem to think that Trump is bluffing, and neither the U.S. Border Patrol nor the Pentagon has received official orders about a border shutdown.
Immigration does need to be addressed in the U.S., but shutting down an entire border is not the way to do it.
U.S. consumers would feel the pain of this shutdown quickly, and the economic impact on farmers would be painful.
I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see if this is a negotiating tactic or if Trump will truly go through with this.
For the sake of our farmers, I hope trade between the U.S. and Mexico continues without unnecessary interruption.
In the meantime, I’m going to order some extra guacamole and sip on a margarita before I miss my chance.
This column is based on the status of the border situation at press time Thursday morning, April 4.