Passed on Dec. 8 by the House, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (H.R. 4996) would take key steps to resolve maritime supply chain obstacles that are increasing costs for U.S. agricultural exporters and preventing U.S. shippers from capturing export opportunities, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
“Ongoing congestion and related logistical obstacles threaten U.S. farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to meet much-welcome increases in foreign demand for our products,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall wrote in letter to House lawmakers urging them to support the bill.
Across California’s three major ports, the shipment of empty containers jumped 56%, from an average of 1.16 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) in the first quarters of 2018-2020 to 1.81 million TEUs in the first quarter of 2021.
Duvall continued, “Accessibility to export containers has been further limited by record shipping costs and harmful surcharges. With these factors combined, the ability for farmers and ranchers to fulfill oversees contracts has been significantly impacted, with some estimations nearing $1.5 billion in lost agricultural exports.”
The Ocean Shipping Reform Act would revise the Shipping Act to provide new oversight and enforcement authority to the Federal Maritime Commission, expand opportunities for shippers to seek redress from ocean carriers, and increase transparency and accountability
among ocean carriers and other parties.
The legislation now goes to the Senate.