Well, a lot.
In a letter recently sent to President Biden, several ag organizations told the Commander in Chief that “the problem not only persists, but is becoming even more dire.”
The letter, signed by more than 70 ag groups, sincerely thanked the president for actions already taken to alleviate the issues but urged him to take further action—ASAP.
Refresher: Fallout from the pandemic (here we go again) has left the ag industry facing a boatload of challenges. Foreign-owned ocean carriers have been holding U.S. ag exporters hostage through massive fees, canceled cargo bookings, and a general lack of transparency.
Going to need a fuller boat: With Asia-bound ocean carriers not allowing time for ships to be loaded with U.S. ag products, over 70% of all shipping containers leaving West Coast ports are completely empty. That’s an all-time record… and not exactly one to brag about.
Empty containers, paired with strong imports are causing a bit of an… ahem… imbalance.
Soundbite: “Right now, imports seem to be enjoying the equivalent of an eight-lane highway while our exports have been relegated to narrow country roads; that’s not right…” noted Krysta Harden, U.S. Dairy Export Council President and CEO.
Where this goes: The petitioning parties sent a laundry list of suggestions to the president, which, if implemented, should help the situation. In the long term, they are requesting his support for the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act—meant to codify policies that will address the unfair practices facing ag exports.