Last week the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 was unanimously approved during a voice vote of the U.S. Senate. A version of the legislation was approved in the U.S. House of Representatives late last year. Final negotiations will take place before a final bill can be sent to President Joe Biden for a signature.
“AFBF appreciates the unanimous vote in the Senate to pass the Ocean Shipping Reform Act. Farmers have lost out on up to $4 billion in agricultural exports because of lack of access to export containers, record shipping costs and harmful surcharges. Limited trade has also hampered farmers’ ability to get crucial supplies like fertilizer at a time when supply chains are already stressed,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a press release. “AFBF encourages lawmakers from both chambers to work quickly to reconcile differences in each version of the legislation and get it to the president for his signature so farmers can continue putting dinner on the table for families in America and overseas.”
One of the provisions of the bill is stricter enforcement of federal regulations related to detention and demurrage fees. The legislation also seeks to bolster authority of the Federal Maritime Commission. Since the legislation was first introduced, it has received significant support from the farm sector. Issues with ocean carriers have been particularly troubling for the agricultural industry.
“I am glad to see the bill pass the Senate,” said International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) Chief Public Policy Office, Robert Guenther. “The Ocean Shipping Reform Act is essential to our industry and the U.S. export market. We encourage our representatives to reconcile the differences with the House and get the bill to the President.”
IFPA had previously sent a letter of support for the legislation back in March. The letter was co-signed by nearly 40 organizations including the California Fresh Fruit Association, Western Growers, and California Citrus Mutual. Altogether, the bill has been endorsed by more than 100 organizations representing various types of industries and businesses.