Dairy groups, agriculture pleased with new Ocean Shipping Act


Dairy groups, agriculture pleased with new Ocean Shipping Act

The leaders of two dairy organizations were glad to see President Biden sign the Ocean Shipping Act into law Thursday.

Krista Harden is the CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, and she tells Brownfield the practice of returning empty shipping containers to Asia harmed American dairy producers and processors. “We estimate we lost about 1.5 billion dollars last year in export costs and lost opportunities, so this really has made an impact on the dairy industry and we’re glad that we have legislation that is going to make a difference.”

Jim Mulhern is the President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, and he tells Brownfield the new law giving the Federal Maritime Commission more authority will make a difference for U.S. exports. “It already has the attention of the carriers. We’ve seen a little bit of improvement already even before the legislation was passed by Congress and today (Thursday) being signed into law by President Biden.”

And, they say the new law helps make the U.S. a more reliable exporter. Mulhern tells Brownfield, “It’s really more about getting the orders fulfilled in a timely fashion, and if you can’t get the product to a customer, they’re going to cancel the order and get it from somebody else, and that’s been the major problem we’ve faced.” Hardin says, “That’s exactly right. That’s the problem. Orders we have not been able to fill, they go somewhere else and they see us as an unreliable source which is really a long-term problem and not just a short-term problem.”

Mulhern says there has been some improvement in service by ocean carriers ahead of this new law.  Mulhern and Hardin say they plan to work with the Federal Maritime Commission as they create the enforcement rules.

Other agriculture groups are applauding the new law.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says he spoke personally with President Biden about the urgent need for this legislation last week, and he says the law addresses congestion at U.S. ports and creates greater accountability for shipping companies. Duvall says it is a positive step toward ensuring America’s farmers and ranchers can continue feeding families at home and around the globe.

National Pork Producers Council President-Elect Scott Hays says, “Exports add significantly to the bottom line of each American pork producer, and having more assurances that products will reach their destination by addressing problems that have plagued ports for years is a huge win for the pork industry.