Dear Senators Schumer and McConnell,
The US agriculture industry is encouraged that the Senate may consider a bill being drafted by Senators Klobuchar and Thune, with input from the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, to address unreasonable ocean carrier practices that are undermining U.S. export competitiveness. The bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 (H.R. 4996) recently and overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives 364 – 60; it is essential the Senate also pass legislation to allow US agriculture to remain viable in global markets.
The transportation crisis for US agriculture products has become increasingly dire. Many agriculture products produced in the U.S. experience significant competition from other countries. If we cannot deliver our products dependably, our foreign customers will find alternatives to our exports. A survey recently conducted by the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC) found that, on average, 22% of US agriculture foreign sales could not be completed due to ocean carrier practices including: exorbitant freight rates; declined booking requests; unreasonable freight and demurrage/detention charges; and failure to communicate schedules in a timely manner. The damage to our farmers and processors is getting worse; we are losing customers in foreign markets.
Over the past year, intensive media reporting, House and Senate hearings, White House and other Executive Branch Roundtables, and AgTC Workshops, which have included hundreds of agriculture companies, have made clear that current law and regulation are insufficient to protect the ocean shipping interests of US exporters and importers.
We strongly support legislative initiatives to gain reasonable and fair ocean carrier practices consistent with the Federal Maritime Commission’s excellent, but still unenforced, Interpretive Rule on Demurrage and Detention. We ask that the Senate bill, like the House bill, establish an obligation for carriers to self-police compliance with that Rule. In addition, the bill should address the ocean carriers’ responsibility to carry U.S. export cargo to the extent they can do so safely. We also ask that legislation provide the FMC with additional enforcement tools to address injurious ocean carrier practices.
We request that the Senate advance this legislation, so that following a conference with the House, a final bill can be sent to the President’s desk as soon as possible. US agriculture is depending upon it.
Agriculture Transportation Coalition ADM
Agricultural Council of California Allied Potato, Inc.
Almond Alliance of California
American Cotton Shippers Association
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Feed Industry Association
American Pulse Association
American Seed Trade Association
Anderson Hay and Grain Co., Inc
Associated Milk Producers Inc.
Bingaman and Son Lumber, Inc.
Blue Diamond Growers
Border Valley Trading
California Citrus Mutual
California Cotton Ginner & Growers Association
California Dairies, Inc.
California Farm Bureau
California Fresh Fruit Association
California Table Grape Commission
Campos Brothers Farms
Capay Canyon Ranch
Corn Refiners Association
Dairy Farmers of America
Delta Technology Corporation
Diamond E Transport
Diamond Foods, LLC
Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
Double River Forwarding LLC
Eckenberg Farms Inc.
EFI Logistics Inc.
El Dorado Almonds
Farmers International, Inc.
Geo. S. Bush & Co.
Holland Nut Company
Horizon Nut Company
Idaho Dairymen’s Association
Idaho Potato Commission
Idaho-Oregon Fruit and Vegetable Association
International Dairy Foods Association
International Fresh Produce Association
JB Global Co LLC
Johnson Farms Johnsonville
Kraemer & Co. Mfg., Inc.
Leather and Hide Council of America
Mariani Nut Company
Meat Import Council of America
Michigan Milk Producers Association
Midwest Dairy Coalition MJL Properties Inc.
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
National Cotton Council
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Milk Producers Federation
National Oilseed Processors Association
National Pork Producers Council
National Potato Council
North American Meat Institute
North American Renderers Association
North Dakota Grain Growers Association
Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance
Northwest Dairy Association/Darigold
Northwest Horticultural Council
Ohio AgriBusiness Association
Oregon Seed Association
Orleans International, Inc.
Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association
Pet Food Institute
Pohl & Holmes, Inc
Proteus Commodities Inc.
Rivercrest Ranches RPAC, LLC
Sierra Valley Almonds, LLC
South East Dairy Farmers Association
Specialty Soya & Grains Alliance
Texas Grain and Feed Association
The National Fisheries Institute
The National Hay Association
The Wonderful Company
Touchstone Pistachio Company
Treehouse California Almonds, LLC
Twin Commodities Inc.
Tyson Foods, Inc.
U.S. Apple Association
U.S. Dairy Export Council
U.S. Meat Export Federation
US Pea & Lentil Trade Association
USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council
Vann Family Orchards
Vermeulen Farms Inc.
Washington State Potato Commission
Western Agricultural Processors Association
Western Growers Association
Western States Trucking Association
Williams Clarke Company, Inc
Wisconsin Agri-Business Association