Proposed Arizona cold inspection facility would broaden fruit, vegetable availability
An Arizona state investment in a cold inspection facility in Nogales is set to broaden fresh fruit and vegetable availability.
Governor Doug Ducey’s proposed budget includes $700,000 toward the construction of a cold inspection facility at Mariposa Port of Entry. Along with funding from other stakeholders, including the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) and Santa Cruz County, the investment is aimed at helping Arizona add jobs, said Lance Jungmeyer, President of the FPAA.
With the ability to distribute high-value, temperature-sensitive items like berries, Arizona companies could expand their operations to go year-round, helping reduce unemployment during the normally low summer months, Jungmeyer said.
“Imagine Nogales companies selling strawberries, raspberries, sensitive leafy vegetable items and more,” he said. “Presently these items are not imported very much in Nogales because inspection infrastructure is not adequate during warmer months. Now, Arizona can participate in these lucrative markets.”
For instance, Mexican berry exports to the U.S. total more than $1 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but Arizona is a minor importer of berries.
In order to demonstrate the value of adding a cold inspection facility, the University of Arizona conducted an economic impact study, which showed the project could add:
- Between $43 million and $48 million in additional output (sales)
- Between $27 million and $30 million increase in gross state product (value added)
- Between 214 and 241 additional jobs
- Between $15 million and $17 million in labor income (wages and business owner income)
- Between $3.7 million and $4.1 million in additional state and local tax revenues
The study was commissioned by the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, which along with Santa Cruz County seeks to invest in the cold facility, which would be administered by the Greater Nogales and Santa Cruz County Port Authority. To add to the state investment, the FPAA and Santa Cruz County jointly have pledged up to $500,000 toward the project.