U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Reopens Eagle Pass and El Paso Rail Crossings

(EL PASO and EAGLE PASS, TX) — After immense pressure from farm groups, railroads and lawmakers this week, it was announced on Friday that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has reopened the rail crossings at both Eagle Pass, TX and El Paso, TX.

Originally on Monday, December 18th, CBP had closed the two rail crossings in an effort to stem the surge of migrants at the border. On Thursday, President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador met and agreed to commit more resources to handling the surge of migrants at the border.

Many lawmakers, railroads and farm groups have sounded the alarm this week as the two international rail crossing closures were having a dramatic impact on the movement of goods across the border. According to Union Pacific, $200 million of freight per day was being blocked, including shipments of corn, soybean meal and wheat into Mexico.

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and the North America Export Grain Association (NAEGA) issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s (CBP) reopening of international rail crossings at Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas.

“The NGFA and NAEGA are pleased to see the reopening of the Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas railroad crossings to allow for the immediate passage of trains between the United States and Mexico. The North American agricultural supply chain is deeply integrated. Any closure of crossings into Mexico is unacceptable and significantly impacts the flow of grain and oilseeds for both human and livestock feed to one of the United States’ most important export markets and trading partners.

“We call on the governments of the United States and Mexico to continue to dialogue and to put in place measures on both sides of the border to ensure this does not happen again. The free flow of trade across the border is critical to food security for our countries and the region at large. A plan must be in place to keep the border open to commerce between our nations.

“NGFA and NAEGA are particularly appreciative of USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle for their unwavering support and tireless efforts to convince the Department of Homeland Security and CBP of the importance of reopening these crossings to agriculture trade between the United States and Mexico.”

Union Pacific also issued a statement on Friday saying that “Union Pacific is relieved the border crossings at Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas, will reopen. These crossings are critical gateways for international commerce, and the closures had real-world impacts for families, businesses and our customers on both sides of the border. We will restore normal operations as quickly as possible as we work through the five-day backlog of shipments holding to cross the border.”

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) also issued a statement on the reopening of the rail crossings on Friday.

“This is certainly a welcome relief,” said NCGA President Harold Wolle. “We are very appreciative that CBP was responsive to our calls to have the border crossings re-opened, but we hope this experience serves as a cautionary tale moving forward. Rail is a key mode of transportation for our exports into Mexico, so closing rail crossings can have devastating ramifications for farmers and the economy.”

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) said in a Friday afternoon statement “These rail corridors are essential gateways to many loyal flour millers and their wheat food customers in Mexico who rely on the interconnected U.S. and Mexican rail system for a reliable source of high-quality U.S. wheat. Even short disruptions in this system can have significant negative effects on both sides of the border. We trust CBP will take the steps needed to avoid rail closures in the future, and we are grateful for their efforts to maintain border security and facilitate lawful trade.”

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement as well saying, “We’re grateful to CBP for listening to the chorus of industry voices calling for a better approach, and we’re grateful to our biofuels champions on the Hill who delivered our message and helped find a solution to this urgent issue. The bioethanol industry and its farm partners can rest easy knowing that their goods can again flow freely to one of our most important export markets.”