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Ag Groups Urge Additional Action on Ports Crisis
USAgNet - 09/14/2021

The National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council joined several other organizations urging the Biden administration to take additional steps to alleviate the ongoing ports crisis in a letter sent Monday to the White House from a coalition of 77 agriculture and food associations.

Since early 2021, dairy and other agriculture exporters have been facing unprecedented challenges in securing shipping container space on ocean vessels while contending with an accumulation of exorbitant detention and demurrage fees. Foreign owned and operated ocean carriers have been driving this crisis by providing unpredictable and unreasonable timelines for exporters to load agricultural goods and by exacerbating pressure on supply chains by opting to return empty containers rather than allowing time for them to be loaded with Asian-bound goods for the vessel’s return journey. As a result, over 70% of containers are leaving West Coast ports empty, an all-time record.

Delays and an intentional lack of transparency and flexibility from ocean carriers have cost American dairy exporters over $300 million dollars through just the first half of the year, or 12% of total export value. In addition to this added cost, continued delays put at risk critical trading relationships with Asian importers as the U.S. increasingly risks becoming viewed as an unreliable supplier.

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