A total of 76 agricultural organizations are calling on federal officials to address the ongoing challenges with ocean carriers. In a letter addressed to President Joe Biden, the ag groups highlight the need for immediate action after months of problems. The coalition expressed appreciation for the actions already taken to remedy the challenges with ocean transport but notes that a more direct, immediate solution is needed.
“Despite these positive steps, the problem not only persists, but is becoming even more dire,” the letter states. “Carriers are increasingly declining or cancelling export cargo bookings, while frequent ship delays and cancellations with little or no notice to our exporters, is delaying shipments by weeks or even months. The resulting inability of shippers to deliver their products on schedule affects the reliability of American exports, and subsequently decreases export values and market share.”
The letter was also sent to the Agriculture Secretary, the U.S. Attorney General, the Transportation Secretary, the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, and the Chair of the Federal Maritime Commission. Altogether, the signatories of the letter represent thousands of exporters of agricultural and related products, along with many entities responsible for their transport. Some of the recommendations highlighted in the letter include incentivizing ocean carriers to utilize their full capacity and implementing more thorough enforcement of the Shipping Act. Other steps suggested by the coalition include supporting the Ocean Shipping Reform Act and establishing an interagency workgroup specifically focused on ag exports.
“We realize that the challenges our agriculture exporters face will not change overnight. But with the holiday import surges soon upon us, the challenge is growing,” the coalition stated. “Regulatory action and enforcement steps take time to be implemented, and while those important processes need to move ahead, we call on you and your administration to take effective steps to gain immediate relief. Recognizing that relief may be incremental, it must begin very soon.”