Ag Policy Blog

House Transportation Hears Testimony on Shipping Delays

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
Jen Sorenson, president of the National Pork Producers Council, speaking last week at a press conference during the World Pork Expo. Sorenson testified Tuesday in a congressional hearing about challenges facing agricultural exporters with delays at shipping ports. (DTN image by Chris Clayton)

West Coast port problems are limiting the potential for exports of pork and other products, according to testimony delivered Tuesday at a House Transportation Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee hearing titled Impacts of Shipping Container Shortages, Delays, and Increased Demand on the North American Supply Chain.

All U.S. ports are experiencing shipping delays, but the West Coast is the most heavily impacted since it sends product to Asian-Pacific destinations, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President Jen Sorenson said. The Asia-Pacific region is one of U.S. pork's top markets, due to its cultural preference for pork and recent trade agreements with China and Japan.

"Shipping delays to the Asia-Pacific region are increasing costs and positioning the United States as an unreliable trading partner. If left unaddressed, this may also negatively impact future trade agreements with Southeast Asian trading partners as we seek better market access for U.S. pork," Sorenson said.

"Compounding the situation, carriers are failing to provide accurate notice to exporters of arrival/departure and cargo loading times, and then impose financial penalties on exporters for 'missing' those loading windows," she testified. Those financial penalties, which are paid to the very carriers that are cancelling the orders, have been deemed unreasonable by the Federal Maritime Commission. Ultimately, these additional costs are passed down the supply chain to farmers."

Among recommendations to alleviate the port bottlenecks, Sorenson urged for expanded operating hours for U.S. ports, and expedited Federal Maritime Commission enforcement.

- House Transportation Subcommittee -- Impacts of Shipping Container Shortages, Delays, and Increased Demand on the North American Supply Chain (video)…

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