U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg Monday announced a plan for the Port of Oakland to speed up agricultural exports. The Department of Agriculture is partnering with the Port of Oakland to set up a new 25-acre “pop-up” site to make it easier for agricultural companies to fill empty shipping containers with commodities.
Secretary Buttigieg spoke with AgNet West Monday and said there has been a focus nationally on imports of good coming into America, but exports are just as important.
“Maybe even more important is making sure that we’re getting income to Americans associated with exports going out. The agricultural community has really been affected by some of these supply chain issues,” he said. “So, we are working on a way to help use empty containers to reduce congestion and give ag exporters access to those empty containers, instead of sending them right back to Asia empty which is what happens a lot on these ships.”
Listen to the full interview with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and AgNet West National Correspondent Sabrina Halvorson.
Secretary Vilsack spoke at a panel hosted by Agri-Pulse at The National Press Club in Washington D.C. and explained that the government will be paying part of the bill.
“USDA is going to pay 60 percent of the cost of the start-up of this particular effort,” Vilsack said. “The Port of Oakland will provide the space. The containers will be made available to ag companies and cooperatives that can fill them up with commodities.”
There will be refrigerated containers for commodities that require them. Secretary Vilsack said the USDA will also provide the shippers a subsidy for each container of $125 to offset some of the logistic costs of moving containers.
Fewer containers have been made available for U.S. agricultural commodities, as ocean carriers have circumvented traditional marketing channels and rushed containers back to be exported empty and as a result, many of these carriers have suspended service to the Port of Oakland. Vilsack said it negatively influences the nation’s trade markets.
Click here for more information from the USDA.
National Correspondent / AgNet Media, Inc.
Sabrina Halvorson is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and public speaker who specializes in agriculture. She primarily reports on legislative issues and hosts The AgNet Weekly podcast. Sabrina is a native of California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley.