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NMPF, Congress Urge Maritime Commission to Act on Port, Container Rates

April 5, 2021

NMPF staff lobbied congressional offices in March to raise the issue with the Federal Maritime Commission that certain vessel operating common carriers (VOCCs) reportedly are returning to their original port with empty containers instead of accepting U.S. agriculture and forestry exports. Members of Congress have sent letters to the FMC pressuring them to address the problem, due in part to NMPF advocacy.

Senator John Thune (R-SD), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and 22 of their colleagues sent a letter on March 2 to the FMC expressing concern and calling on the Commission to quickly resolve this critical issue, which is complicating dairy exports. In the letter, the senators urged appropriate enforcement actions under the Shipping Act be used to end recent practices that are hurting producers and preventing competition in foreign markets. They also recognized how urgent the need is, “especially with record container volumes at the nation’s major ports.”

More than 100 House Members also wrote to the FMC to share their mounting concern over this practice, stating: “Should it be found that VOCCs are predatory or unreasonable in refusing to export American agricultural producers or imposing unreasonable fees, they must be held accountable by the Commission for the harm they are causing our producers.” The signees called on the commission to provide monthly updates as efforts to address the issue move forward.

NMPF will continue to maintain pressure on Congress and the FMC to quickly resolve the ongoing delays and excessive fees.