Dairy Industry Encourages Action to Address Supply Chain Problems

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Dairy & Livestock, Industry, Trade

Industry groups are continuing calls for action from federal officials to address ongoing supply chain problems. The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) have pointed out the impact supply chain constraints are having on the dairy industry. In a letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Transpiration Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the groups recommend specific steps that can provide relief to dairy farmers and exporters.

Supply Chain Problems

The dairy groups highlight the value of interagency collaboration between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation. Further direct actions recommended by the organizations include resuming the publication of Ocean Shipping Container Availability Reports. USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service discontinued the report a few years ago, which provided weekly updates on the availability and location of containers. The dairy groups also support the establishment of more pop-up terminals like those that have recently become available in Oakland and Seattle. However, the groups note that additional terminal availability is needed in inland locations such as Chicago, Salt Lake City, and Detroit.

“Supply chain challenges have cost U.S. dairy exporters over $1.5 billion last year alone,” President and CEO of USDEC Krysta Harden said in a press release. “The additional recommendations submitted today would provide agricultural exporters much needed insight into container availability and provide avenues to incentivize carriers to load outbound shipments to key dairy markets around the world.”

Other suggestions to address supply chain problems include development of a ‘fast lane’ concept at port terminals. The idea is to incentivize the flow of agricultural exports and would include dedicated trucking lanes for more efficient delivery of perishable goods. The dairy groups also provided two operational recommendations in the letter. One calls for real-time tracking of containers as part of the new Freight Logistics Optimization Works initiative. The other is the implementation of a ‘dual turn’ approach, where containers delivering imports can be directed to an exporter rather than being sent back to port empty.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West