House Shipping-Bill Passage Follows Wide-Ranging NMPF Approach

A year of NMPF advocacy to alleviate shipping supply chain disruptions for dairy exports took a significant step forward Dec. 8 with the U.S. House of Representative’s passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act.

With input from a joint NMPF-U.S. Dairy Export Council Supply Chain Working Group launched in last July to draw on the expertise of members’ dairy logistics staff, NMPF worked closely with Representatives John Garamendi (D-CA) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD), USDEC and other agricultural partners to shape the legislation, which passed the House with a broad, bipartisan vote of 364-60. The bill is intended to mitigate the delays, disruptions and unreasonable fees that dairy exporters have faced for more than a year.

Following this win, NMPF now is building Senate support for the bill by highlighting key provisions meant to ease disruptions that have cost dairy exporters over $1.3 billion through the first three quarters of 2021.

If signed into law, the legislation would amend the U.S. 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 foreign-owned ocean carriers. The bill specifically would reign in carriers’ ability to deny contracted export shipments, increase the availability of containers, improve protections against retaliation, and better address fees that are accruing outside of dairy exporters’ control.

As part of the push that led to the overwhelming House vote, NMPF spearheaded a Dec. 8 letter from 78 dairy cooperatives, companies and associations reiterated the legislation’s importance to the continued success of U.S. dairy exports, which are on pace for a record volume in 2021 when final numbers are compiled. A FAQ on the bill that NMPF and USDEC created is here.

“We thank Representatives Garamendi and Johnson for their leadership in working to address the challenges dairy and other agricultural exporters have struggled with for the most of this year,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, in a statement after House passage. “The Ocean Shipping Reform Act is an important move toward ensuring the international competitiveness of our dairy producers is not unfairly limited by abuses from ocean carriers. We look forward to working with the Senate to carry this momentum forward.”