Port “Pop-Ups” Expedite Ag Exports

Mar 22, 2022

Supply chain problems keep popping up, so the USDA has a potential solution: they announced Friday they would add another ag commodity “pop-up” port to house ag containers and speed up future shipping.

Northwest is best: In partnership with the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA), the USDA is bringing a 49-acre “pop-up” site to the Port of Seattle, the fourth-largest container gateway in the U.S., for temporary storage of dry and refrigerated ag products. The “pop-up” will lower operational obstacles and costs, plus make it faster for commodities to be loaded onto ships at export terminals. 

Old news, but still news: The container shortage, which prioritized empty containers to return to Asia, along with port congestion, continues to brew a “perfect storm.” Not surprisingly, the NWSA has experienced an almost 30% decline in ag commodity exports during the last half of 2021, while the bulk of container exports were empty.

Soundbite: “As the Washington growing season ramps up over the next few weeks, this new pop-up port will fill up with containers of hay, grains, peas, lentils, refrigerated dairy products, all ready to load onto ships and reach consumers across the globe. This is one tool to help address port congestion, and I will continue to work to hold foreign shipping companies responsible for the price hikes that are leaving our farmers, growers, and exporters on the sidelines,” said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell. 

Just the beginning: The partnership with the NWSA in Seattle is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s Supply Chain Task Force. A similar USDA partnership has been established with the Port of Oakland, California, as well as between the U.S. DOT and the Port of Savannah, Georgia. The USDA will keep an eye out for more potential partnerships with ports and intermodal container facilities to further ease supply chain strain.