Buttigieg, Vilsack urge ocean carriers to make ships available for US ag exports | TheFencePost.com
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Buttigieg, Vilsack urge ocean carriers to make ships available for US ag exports

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Agriculture Tom Vilsack last week criticized ocean carriers for making fewer containers available for U.S. agricultural exports, and urged them to restore “reciprocal treatment of imports and exports and improving service.”

“Ocean carriers have made fewer containers available for U.S. agricultural commodities, repeatedly changed return dates and charged unfair fees as the ocean carriers short-circuited the usual pathways and rushed containers back to be exported empty,” a joint statement said. “The poor service and refusal to serve customers is exemplified by many ocean carriers suspending service to the Port of Oakland.”

“DOT and USDA are calling on the carriers to more fully utilize available terminal capacity on the West Coast. The Port of Oakland, Port of Portland, and other West Coast ports have excess capacity to alleviate supply chain congestion.



“However, the suspension of service by ocean carriers at the Port of Oakland earlier this year has required agricultural exporters to truck their harvests to the already heavily congested Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Restoration of service would not only ease the congestion at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in Southern California but would allow the prompt export of American goods overseas and ease the strain on the supply of long-haul truckers necessary to transport goods from Northern California to Los Angeles and Long Beach.

In a letter to shipping executive, Buttigieg and Visack wrote, “The Port of Oakland, Port of Portland, and other West Coast ports have excess capacity to alleviate supply chain congestion. Particularly, the suspension of service by ocean carriers at the Port of Oakland earlier this year has required agricultural exporters to truck their harvests to the already heavily congested Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.”



“While ships must dwell for several days in San Pedro Bay to berth at Southern California ports, other West Coast ports are less congested and berths more readily available. Restoration of service would not only ease the congestion at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in Southern California but would allow the prompt export of American goods overseas and ease the strain on the supply of long-haul truckers necessary to transport goods from Northern California to Los Angeles and Long Beach.”

The U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation immediately praised Buttigieg and Vilsack for their actions.

“Yesterday’s letter was a key step in the right direction and builds on last week’s successful passage of House legislation designed to curb some of the bad-faith practices by ocean carriers,” the dairy groups said in a joint news release.

“Dairy exporters are enduring tremendous challenges in getting their high-quality products to customers in overseas markets, which puts our industry’s reputation as a reliable supplier at risk. Our competitors in the European Union and Oceania are eager to swoop in and scoop up those sales,” said Krysta Harden, president and CEO of USDEC.

“USDEC commends the administration’s recognition that the current situation facing our dairy exporters cannot continue and strongly supports further steps by the Federal Maritime Commission and other administration entities to drive change swiftly.”

“Dairy farmers and their cooperatives have invested significantly in painstakingly cultivating export markets to help meet the growing global demand for dairy,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.

“This year’s shipping supply chain crisis has created enormous upheaval in maintaining those sales, which are so critical to the overall demand for American milk,” Mulhern said.

“Dairy farmers strongly support USDA and DOT’s castigation of ocean shippers’ abusive practices and urge the administration to take the steps necessary to bring about meaningful reforms in export access for our dairy industry.”

Ag & Politics

Vilsack to travel to Colorado Tuesday, Wednesday

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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will travel to Colorado on Tuesday and Wednesday for events with Democratic Sens. Michael Bennett and John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Gov. Jared Polis, also a Democrat.



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