Ag Shippers Air Concern at Meeting

Agriculture shippers expressed their concerns about rail service and other issues this week as part of a meeting sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Transportation.

Meeting participants discussed issues they are having shipping agricultural exports, as well as logistical and technical concerns.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack summarized those issues as placing stress on nearly every sector of the supply chain, including warehousing, trucking, rail service, inland and ocean terminals, container availability and vessel service.

Shippers described recent problems with ocean carriers as well as the emergence of detention and demurrage charges. Others recalled canceled or delayed bookings, as well as the difficulty in meeting export demands.

“While this disruption is impacting ports along the West Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the busiest container ports in the United States, moving nearly a third of containerized agricultural exports by volume, have experienced the worst disruption,” Visack said.

He said export challenges began in last fall and have escalated to include a wide range of affected commodities and port regions.

He said farmers who have struggled to find a market for their products and get a fair price for their commodities are finding markets opening back up.

Participating in the meeting were stakeholders in the livestock, grains, specialty crop and dairy industries, as well as representatives from the shipping companies.

USDOT officials discussed how they will work with the Federal Maritime and others to help address the shippers’ concerns.

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