The introduction of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 is receiving support from the agricultural industry. It was introduced by U.S. Representatives John Garamendi and Dusty Johnson. The bipartisan legislation seeks to address issues of maritime shipping that have been creating challenges for agricultural exporters. Among other things, the bill seeks to end the practice of shipping companies declining export bookings and enhances oversight of various charges and fees.
“At a time when our farmers are still pressing to regain lost overseas markets after years of trade upheaval, the ongoing West Coast port crisis and skyrocketing shipping costs are diminishing their opportunity to do so,” Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia said in a press release. “The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 provides much needed oversight and transparency into maritime shipping practices, which have increasingly become too unpredictable or costly for our exporters to remain globally competitive.”
Carriers would be required to provide notice of cargo available and container return locations under the bill. The legislation would also effectively codify the Federal Maritime Commission’s Interpretive Rule on Demurrage and Detention Under the Shipping Act. The Ocean Shipping Reform Act would also require carriers to offer a practical process for dispute resolution.
The legislation has robust support from a variety of agricultural industries. More than 100 agricultural organizations and businesses have signed a letter of support for the bill authored by the Agriculture Transportation Coalition. Signatories include the American Farm Bureau Federation, U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), United Fresh Produce Association, and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
“We are grateful for the bipartisan leadership from Congressmen Garamendi and Johnson in developing and introducing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act,” said USDEC President and CEO Krysta Harden. “Dairy producers and manufacturers have faced unreasonable costs and unfair practices from ocean carriers that negatively affect U.S. exports, increasing costs and putting at risk established trading relationships. This legislation will hopefully curtail those abuses and encourage better export-oriented behavior moving forward.”