Texas farm and ranch land along the Rio Grande River in deep South Texas is well suited for agriculture, a place where crops, forage and livestock flourish on rich soil.

But in a time when farmland values are exceptionally strong, thousands of acres of this prime property are currently available for below market value, yet few potential buyers are giving the property a second look.

A local farm and ranch realtor, Terry Urdal in McAllen, says few buyers are willing to gamble on property plagued by serious border issues including drug cartel violence and an increasing influx of illegal immigrants streaming into the Valley to escape what some term the most violent region on earth.

A broadcast report from KRGV television in the Valley recently stated that property owners along the Rio Grande River north of Brownsville are trapped between escalating violence in Mexico and political indecision in Washington, a problem Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples voiced last week in his latest letter to President Obama calling for stronger border security measures.

“With steadily rising agriculture land values across much of the United States, this fertile soil should be producing crops and contributing to the local economy, and it should be selling quickly when placed on the market. Instead, families that have nurtured the land for generations are tragically forced to start over away from the car chases, armed drug smugglers and cartel violence spilling over from Mexico,” Staples said in a Feb. 14 letter to the White House.

Staples is once again asking the Obama administration to stop the reduction of National Guard troops along the border. He writes that more troops are needed to control spillover violence and suggested surplus military equipment returning from Iraq should be used to enhance a military arsenal in ongoing border security efforts.

Staples’ strong stand on border security is nothing new. The most recent letter is not the first he has sent to Washington. By saying agriculture interests in Texas will be adversely affected by continuing border violence, he pledges to continue efforts to bolster border security along bipartisan lines, and points to devalued land prices along the river as the latest indication that the problem in the border region is intensifying.

Urdal, who in addition to being a farm and ranch realtor in McAllen is a partner in a border ranch operation in South Texas, says he believes the problem has escalated “beyond a reasonable solution.

“Smugglers have been crossing the Rio Grande in both directions for over 200 years selling everything from guns to stolen vehicles. But the illegal drug trade and human trafficking and kidnapping issues in recent years have taken us to a point where there seems to be no real solution to the problem,” Urdal says.

The son of an immigrant father from Norway who joined the U.S. Army during World War II, Urdal says the problem goes beyond illegal trade across the border.