A bipartisan group of lawmakers is continuing to encourage more effective supply chain relief from the Biden Administration. More than 70 congressmembers sent a letter to President Joe Biden outlining the ongoing issues and how they are impacting U.S. exports. The letter has also been endorsed by nearly two dozen agricultural groups, including the Almond Alliance, Western Growers, California Farm Bureau Federation, and Sunkist Growers.
“Currently, while ocean carriers coming from Asia are imported into the U.S. at full capacity, those same carriers are all too often declining to take U.S. agriculture commodity exports,” the letter states. “A record 70 percent of containers leaving California ports are leaving empty. For those foreign-owned carriers willing to haul U.S. goods across the Pacific, there are reports of unprecedented freight, storage, and demurrage fees being assessed on U.S. exporters.”
The lawmakers underscore the need for supply chain relief as being critical to ensuring the reputation of the U.S. as a reliable exporter. Several approaches to remedy the ongoing supply chain issues were offered in the letter. The use of emergency authority could be implemented to help incentivize increased outbound shipments of full containers. Lawmakers are also encouraging the use of emergency actions to provide greater flexibility as it related to overweight vehicles to allow for more expedited movement of shipping containers. Other considerations could also be made to improve the availability of equipment such as containers and chassis.
Backlogs at American ports have been an ongoing challenge for several months. Supply chains challenges are also mounting as a result of trucking issues. The lawmakers note that while Congressional action may alleviate some of the pressure on the supply chain, further, more immediate efforts are warranted. “This supply chain crisis is already having disastrous consequences for the U.S. agriculture industry, and any delay in addressing key areas of congestion will only exacerbate the long-term ramifications. It is critical to act quickly to address these issues,” the letter concludes.