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Congress Hears from Dairy on Port Problems

July 6, 2021

NMPF is seeking a wide range of solutions, including legislative ones, to problems at U.S. ports that continue to harm U.S. dairy exports.

NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) are calling for legislation to amend the Shipping Act to strengthen the Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) authority to enforce reasonable ocean carrier guidelines to ensure more normalized trade opportunities for U.S. agricultural exports, working with the Agriculture Transportation Coalition and Reps. John Garamendi (D-CA) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD).

Months of NMPF and USDEC efforts to raise congressional attention to port issues and exports also bore fruit when the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation held an oversight hearing on June 15 highlighting the ongoing delays and increased costs for exports at U.S. ports. NMPF, USDEC and other agricultural organizations have actively encouraged the subcommittee to take this step to bring more focus to bear on the challenges U.S. exporters face.

Members of Congress at the hearing heard from U.S. agricultural organizations, FMC Commissioners Dan Maffei and Rebecca Dye, and port operations groups. NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said in remarks issued the same day that “dairy producers throughout the country are feeling the consequences of port congestion as delays in loading U.S. dairy exports onto carriers creates a chilling effect on farm-gate milk prices.” NMPF and USDEC have particularly urged the commission to require ocean carriers to certify that they are complying with the agency’s guidelines.