Ag Policy Blog

Senators Express Concern Over Cargo Container Crisis

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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A cargo container ship preparing to dock in Savannah, Ga., last year. Agricultural shippers are increasingly raising concerns over ocean shippers taking back empty containers rather than allowing U.S. agricultural goods to load on them. Twenty four senators wrote the Federal Maritime Commissions about the issue on Tuesday. (DTN file photo by Chris Clayton)

The shipping crisis over cargo containers has finally gotten some attention in Congress.

Twenty four senators signed on to a bipartisan letter on Tuesday, led by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and John Thune, R-S.D. The senators on both the Senate Commerce and Agriculture committees, wrote the Federal Maritime Commission to continue investigating reports against ocean shippers for refusing to ship agricultural products from U.S. ports back to Asia.

As DTN has reported, agricultural shippers that rely on cargo containers have been raising concern since last year that ocean carriers are not allowing U.S. exporters a chance to load products onto cargo containers and ships. Instead, shippers are finding it more profitable to return to China with empty cargo containers for exporters in that country to immediately use. The situation has led to hundreds of millions in lost exports for agricultural shippers.

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DTN's Mary Kennedy highlighted Monday that the Specialty Soya & Grains Alliance (SSGA), Agriculture Transportation Coalition and 70 other agriculture associations wrote President Joe Biden last week "asking for intervention into the container shipping crisis."

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The senators wrote the Federal Maritime Commission stated that if the reports about vessels denying agriculture products are true, then "such practices would be unreasonable, anticompetitive, and hurt millions of producers across the country. The Senators asked the commission to take appropriate action against ocean carriers.

“The need is urgent, especially with record container volumes at the nation's major ports," the senators wrote. "These volumes, and the resulting congestion, will only grow as the global economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic,” the senators wrote.

Joining Thune and Klobuchar in sending the letter were Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, John Hoeven, R-N.D., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., Roger Marshall, R-Kan., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Mike Rounds, R-S.D., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

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