Cattle Imports From Mexico Dwindling After Decision by USDA

Cattle Imports From Mexico Dwindling After Decision by USDA
By Alicia Neaves
NewsWest 9

PRESIDIO/OJINAGA - International trade. It's a huge part West Texas and the communities of Presidio and Chihuahua, Mexico. But after a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, cattle trade across the border has almost disappeared.

In August of 2012, due to security concerns, the USDA pulled its cattle inspection facility from Ojinaga, Mexico. Once crossing up to 3,000 heads of cattle per day, it now imports about 300 a week using a temporary facility placed in Presidio.

"Right now as we are, we cross a little bit of cattle, so we're keeping it alive," Salvador Baeza, Owner of Baeza Cattle Company, said.

Ranchers from 11 states in Mexico transported their cattle through Ojinaga for many years. Now, because of the rise in cost and the cattle losing weight in the process, 88% of total cattle imports go through Santa Teresa, New Mexico.

"This cattle crossing is what has been happening naturally for many, many years," Miguel Antonio Carreon Rohana, President of Ojinaga, said.

After writing a letter to Washington addressing the importance of international trade between these two communities, the USDA chose to reassess the facility in Ojinaga last week. They say they keep a continued watch on all facilities and base their decisions on activities on the level of security.

"If it's been good for 85 years, for an isolated incident or two to have let the disclosure is unfounded and uncalled for," City of Presidio Special Projects Coordinator, Carlos Nieto, said.

"We took it for granted a long time ago that the cattle were leaving anything here in Presidio and Ojinaga. Once we lost it, we knew it was giving us a little money," Baeza, said.

In the meantime, after many restaurants, hotels and businesses were forced to close down, hope still remains for things to return back to normal.

"We're confident that once they get it going they are going to see that there are no problems and that it's really going to help both of our cities a lot," Presidio Mayor, John Ferguson, said.

There is quite a bit of optimism coming from leaders and residents of these two communities because the USDA says anytime from now until Friday, February 14, they will give an answer to whether the cattle trade will return the way it was for 85 years.