Washington, D.C. (December 20, 2023) – The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) have joined several other U.S. agricultural organizations in signing a letter encouraging U.S. Customs and Border Protection to reopen rail crossings in El Paso and Eagle Point for trade as quickly as possible.
Given the huge volume of U.S. wheat sales that move directly to Mexican customers by rail, the sudden decision on December 17 to close these two crucial rail crossings on the border has the potential to be a major disruption in this important trade relationship.
Mexico is historically the top export market for U.S. wheat with average annual commercial sales of almost 132 million bushels. A substantial volume of U.S. wheat is shipped by rail every year and it is estimated that at least 13 million bushels of wheat, valued at more than $114 million, per year moves through the rail corridors at the El Paso and Eagle Pass crossings that are now closed.
Mexican customers use rail to import U.S. wheat from as far away as the Northern Plains and loaded trains are currently waiting to move. This unexpected disruption puts those sales at risk, as well as the positive trading relationship our industry has built over decades as a reliable supplier of high-quality U.S. wheat to Mexican flour millers and their commercial bakery customers.
Like the other national agricultural organizations signing the industry letter, USW and NAWG understand the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency have significant challenges given the situation at the border, but a supply chain crisis in Mexico can, and should be, avoided by safely reopening the international crossings.