Last week the Ocean Shipping Reform Act was approved by a voice vote in the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee. The bill is now headed to the full Senate for consideration. A version of the legislation has already passed through the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act. The legislation would essentially empower the Federal Maritime Commission with more authority to regulate ocean carrier practices.
“We also know here, in the Committee, that these ocean shipping companies are making record profits.,” said Senator Maria Cantwell, Chair of the Commerce Committee. “They have made $150 billion dollars in profits in 2021, and ocean import volume for the first quarter of this year is forecast to increase by more than 30 percent. Our farmers don’t want special treatment. They just don’t want to be exploited for the sake of record profits.”
Ag groups such as National Milk Producers Foundation, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), and U.S. Dairy Export Council have praised the advancement of the legislation. Farming organizations have been consistently raising concerns about the substantial impact that port issues continue to have on the industry.
“AFBF is pleased the Senate Commerce Committee worked together to advance the Ocean Shipping Reform Act to the full Senate. Ongoing supply chain issues and record-high shipping costs threaten to limit exports at a time when our trading partners are increasingly relying on America’s farmers and ranchers,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a news release. “Limiting trade also negatively affects farmers’ ability to get much-needed supplies like fertilizer, which ultimately drives up the cost of growing food for America’s families. We urge the Senate to follow the House and the Commerce Committee’s lead and pass the Ocean Shipping Reform Act to ensure America’s farmers and ranchers can continue to meet the needs of families at home and abroad.”