A group of bipartisan lawmakers is pushing for more to be done about the continued container shortages at American ports. The group expressed its concern in a letter to Michael A. Khouri, Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). More than 100 U.S. House Members highlighted issues with vessel-operating common carriers (VOCCs) neglecting to ship American ag products.
“These VOCCs serve as an integral link between American producers and overseas customers, without which contracts cannot be met and the ability to compete in or even access foreign markets is threatened,” the group stated in its letter. “We appreciate the steps already taken by the Federal Maritime Commission to investigate these alarming reports and urge the Commission to resolve this matter. In the meantime, we call on the Commission to provide monthly updates to Congress until the matter is resolved.”
The letter was sent after FMC indicated the agency would be taking a closer look at issues at U.S. ports, including those related to container shortages. Agricultural groups have been working to achieve some kind of positive development on the port issue for several months. Multiple county farm bureaus and other agricultural organizations have expressed appreciation for lawmakers taking up the cause of addressing issues at U.S. ports. The group explained that more than 20 percent of American ag products are exported, highlighting how critical efficient port access is for the industry.
“As the nation and world grapples with the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that port operators and VOCCs honor their responsibilities and adhere to the laws that govern their roles in the global economy,” the letter explains. “Continued and largely unrestricted access to American ports means trade opportunities should be reciprocal. Should the investigation reveal any wrongdoing, we urge the Commission to take appropriate enforcement actions to end such practices swiftly and decisively.”