Earlier this week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021. The bill seeks to address the ongoing challenges related to international trade and issues within the supply chain. The bill was passed by a vote of 364-60 on December 8. Agricultural organizations have been raising alarm on the actions taken by ocean carriers and the negative impact that is having on export potential.
“Western Growers is very pleased to see the House overwhelmingly pass H.R. 4996, which will help ensure fairer shipping practices and standards for our agricultural exports. The ongoing supply chain and marine port challenges are restricting our farmers’ ability to reach overseas opportunities,” Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia said in a press release. “The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 provides much-needed improvements to the maritime shipping environment, which has increasingly become too unpredictable and costly for our exporters to remain competitive.”
The bill is designed to strengthen enforcement against unreasonable and uncompetitive actions of ocean carriers. It would also bolster the authority of the Federal Maritime Commission to better address predatory detention and demurrage fees. Several agricultural groups have expressed support for the legislation moving forward including the North American Meat Institute, the U.S. Dairy Export Council, and the Agricultural Retailers Association. Farm groups are calling for swift action by the U.S. Senate in moving forward on the bill.
“The Ocean Shipping Reform Act is an important move toward ensuring the international competitiveness of our dairy producers is not unfairly limited by abuses from ocean carriers,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “We look forward to working with the Senate to carry this momentum forward. Given the complexity of the export shipping crisis, we also encourage the Administration to continue to take steps within its existing authority to alleviate the challenges facing dairy exporters.”