The Ocean Shipping Reform Act was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate as a means for addressing the continued issues within the food supply chain. Similar legislation was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives back in December by a vote of 364 to 60. Introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar and John Thune, the legislation has the support of more than 100 agricultural groups.
“When we can’t export our products, we not only jeopardize our foreign customer relationships and markets, but we also lose value-added opportunities that create jobs and investment in the United States,” President and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, Krysta Harden said in a press release. “We look forward to continuing to work with Senators Klobuchar and Thune, and others in Congress, to address outstanding concerns and provide for the strongest possible reforms.”
The legislation seeks to make it more difficult for ocean carriers to arbitrarily refuse goods that are ready to be exported at U.S. ports. Provisions of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act would bolster the Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) regulatory authority. FMC would be authorized to self-initiative investigations and enact enforcement measures when necessary. The legislation also promotes greater transparency in requiring ocean carriers to provide detailed reports to FMC on a quarterly basis related to total tonnage moving through U.S. ports. Supporters of the Senate version of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act include the California Farm Bureau Federation, National Milk Producers Federation, and California Fresh Fruit Association.
“The Almond Alliance is happy to see the Senate take the next steps in addressing the supply chain crisis, and thank the bill sponsors for their leadership,” said Aubrey Bettencourt, Almond Alliance President and CEO. “We continue to work with partners and members of the Senate as this bill moves to address unreasonable ocean carrier practices that are undermining U.S. export competitiveness, and having a direct effect on our farmers, food supply, and communities.”