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Congressmen Gonzalez and Vela Introduce Bill to Enable More Efficient Transport of South Texas Agriculture

March 4, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressmen Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) and Filemon Vela (TX-34) introduced H.R. 5898, the Promoting Agricultural Commerce Act, legislation to more efficiently transport high volumes of South Texas agricultural products across the Rio Grande Valley.

The bill seeks to address flaws in federal law that cause significant delays for cross-border commerce and grants an exemption for trucks carrying goods on Interstate 2 (I-2). Under current statutes, truckers carrying goods on Interstate 2 may not surpass a certain weight forcing cargo carriers to find alternative routes of travel instead of utilizing the most sensical and efficient ones. These alternative routes often add hours to travel that in turn hurt the region’s economy.

“Strong infrastructure and efficient business practices are part of why the Rio Grande Valley is able to thrive in every sector,”  said Congressman Gonzalez. “When our sugar growers alerted me to this costly and inefficient flaw in existing law, I knew we had to do something about it. I am optimistic that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join us in supporting South Texas agriculture by helping us move this bill through the legislative process.”

“As a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee and a Valley resident, I understand the issues our producers face when trying to grow and transport their crops,” said Congressman Vela. “We need this legislation to help our sugar industry to move their products in the most efficient manner.”

Should this bill become law, any exemptions the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues regarding the state’s roadways would apply to I-2 corridor. Currently, these exemptions apply on Interstate 69 (I-69). In particular, agricultural producers can receive overweight permits that apply across the entire Rio Grande Valley except I-2.

"Common sense changes like this one supported by Congressman Gonzalez and Congressman Vela will help our cooperative be more efficient,” said Sean Brashear, President and CEO, Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers. “Any dollar saved is a dollar that can be reinvested in our community, mill workers and family farms.  We thank the Congressmen for listening to our concerns."

I-2 currently runs from Penitas, Texas, in the West, to Harlingen, Texas in the East. The route is intersected by I-69 C and 69 E, both of which can take advantage of the Texas trucking law. When I-2 is completed, it will terminate in Laredo, Texas.

More information on H.R. 5898 is available here.