PHARR, RGV – The Pharr Bridge board is planning on becoming a member of the United Fresh Produce Association to boost international trade, according to the director of the Pharr International Bridge.

The Pharr Bridge board recently held a meeting at Pharr City Hall to discuss several topics, including becoming members of the United Fresh Association.

United Fresh Produce Association is a firm that lobbies for issues at the national and state level important to the produce industry and it’s members.

Luis Bazan, the director of Pharr International Bridge, said it would help the city become national players in the produce industry.

“What it does is put us on a platform, at a level playing field, with all the major growers, producers of fresh produce not only from Mexico but the United States as well,” Bazan said.

Bazan said the bridge is involved in all the local associations relating to trade in produce, but wants to continue pursuing associations at the national level.

“We’re a part of many associations, but the reason why we want to join United Fresh is because up to now we’ve been concentrating solely on the regional level,” Bazan said.

“We’ve been part of the Texas International Produce Association for a number of years now. We’ve been participating with the Produce Marketing Association at the national level in the last 2-3 years. But I think it’s time to take it a step further.”

The Pharr International Bridge is a regional leader for importing avocados and other fresh produce, Bazan said. Te next step would be to join United Fresh, he argued.

“We are the number one produce bridge meaning imports and exports of fresh produce are going through here on a daily basis at exponential numbers,” Bazan said. “We continue to trend on that. We continue to be the number one for avocados, number one bridge for avocados. Number two for tomatoes. We also recently discovered that we’re the number one for berries. So it’s very important for us to be at that level of membership with this type of an association at the national level.”

Tony Martinez, a member of the Pharr Bridge Board, sent an email to the director in early July urging him to become members of the association because of the lobbying power the firm carries.

Martinez said the estimated $2,000 membership fee would make them ‘platinum sponsors’ and it would offset the advantages of joining United Fresh.

“Consider how cost effective these fees are I would strongly urge us to go all the way with this,” Martinez wrote in an email. “I think the ROI (return on investment) will be with the NAFTA agreement and FASMA updates and the lobbying power United Fresh can provide to us at the National Level will offset these membership fees.”

According to its website, United Fresh members represent the full breadth of the produce supply chain. “From small family businesses to large international corporations, United fresh member companies bring together companies across the produce industry to speak with one unified voice,” the website states.

United Fresh Members include:

  • Produce companies that provide the fresh fruits and vegetables enjoyed by consumers every day, including grower-shippers, fresh-cut processors, wholesaler-distributors and importers and exporters
  • Retail and food service operators who serve as the main consumer resource for fresh produce consumption
  • Industry service providers who bring produce companies the equipment, materials, supplies, transportation and consultation needed to maximize productivity and efficiency
  • Industry associations and commodity groups serving individual commodities, regions and industry segments
  • University researchers and government officials who partner with the industry on research and regulatory issues

“United Fresh serves as a conduit in the industry bringing businesses across the full produce supply chain together to build strategic partnerships and create long-term initiatives to solve unique business challenges,” United Fresh said.

The group also said it was “the only full spectrum produce association based in Washington, D.C. delivering unmatched value in shaping legislative, regulatory, political and legal solutions to challenges threatening our industry’s growth and profitability.”

The group added: “United Fresh staff are on the job every day meeting with legislators, regulators and their staff to advance industry issues. Whether working to shape nutrition policy or leading the fight for immigration reform, United Fresh speaks for the produce industry.”

Reynosa Customs Brokers

At its monthly meeting, the Pharr Bridge Board also honored retiring and incoming members of the Reynosa Customs Brokers Association.