The Almond Hullers & Processors Association today applauded the tentative agreement reached to resolve the West Coast ports situation. We are pleased that the parties involved have responded positively to the efforts by U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to resolve this situation, said AHPA President Kelly Covello.
This labor dispute has caused severe economic hardship to the California almond industry and we are hopeful the tentative settlement will be quickly approved by members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU.) Covello pointed out that, approximately 70 percent of California almonds are exported and nearly 80 percent of bulk almond exports by value are exported from the Port of Oakland. Bulk almonds alone accounted for more than 16 percent of the $21.1 billion in goods exported from the Port of Oakland in 2014.
The settlement between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) is just the beginning of a long road to recovery. Port officials are saying it will take many weeks to recover from the backlog as ships are anchored off-shore waiting to unload cargo and pick up shipments, pointed out Covello. We urge both sides to work as efficiently and quickly as possible to eliminate this backlog and get shipping activity back to normal.
The labor dispute has had more than just a short term economic impact. The shipping delays have dealt a blow to the trust between shippers and buyers, said Covello. Importers and buyers expect a certain level of reliability and predictability and that trust was eroded by this slowdown. The California almond industry relies on the free flow of international trade. We hope those trade relations will be restored with the settlement of this dispute.
The California almond industry provides nearly $22 billion in economic output and supports more than 100,000 jobs directly and indirectly, of which 97,000 jobs are located in the Central Valley, according to a UC Davis economic study released in December 2014.