NMPF Shapes Supply Chain Policies

The House passed the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Implementation Act of 2023, a key NMF trade-policy priority, on Mar. 21 by unanimous consent.

Led by Reps. Dusty Johnson, R-SD, and John Garamendi, D-CA, the legislation would update supply chain data standards, establish reciprocal trade as part of the Federal Maritime Commission’s mission in enforcing the Shipping Act, and introduce a formal process to report complaints against certain shipping exchanges. NMPF and USDEC endorsed the legislation to help provide greater supply chain transparency and reliability for dairy exporters.

The bill complements the Federal Maritime Commission’s Feb. 23 publication of its final rule on detention and demurrage billing practices, which incorporates several recommendations made by NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC).

As an important part of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) implementation – which NMPF championed – the final rule requires common carriers and marine terminal operators to:

  • Include specific minimum information on demurrage and detention invoices;
  • Outline certain detention and demurrage billing practices, such as determination of which parties may appropriately be billed for demurrage or detention charges; and
  • Set timeframes for issuing invoices.

NMPF Engages on Supply Chain Solutions

As supply chains struggle to fully recover from the pandemic, NMPF continued to engage Congress and the administration on ways to improve ocean and freight shipping.

Representative John Garamendi, D-CA, introduced the Ocean Shipping Competition Enforcement Act on April 8. Supported by NMPF, the bill would allow the Federal Maritime Commission to block anti-competitive agreements among ocean common carriers and maritime terminal operators – an important step in leveling the playing field with dairy exporters.

Additionally, NMPF joined partner organizations in sending two letters from industry urging the U.S. government to address a pair of ocean shipping concerns.  NMPF joined leading agriculture and retail organizations March 24 in calling for the administration to help resolve the ongoing West Coast port labor negotiations. Ocean terminal operators and workers have made little progress on a new labor agreement since the last contract expired over ten months ago. U.S. dairy exporters need the two parties to reach an agreement so that West Coast ports can return to operating at full capacity, a message that NMPF continues to relay on Capitol Hill.

Separately, NMPF joined the Agriculture Transportation Coalition in sending a letter to Representatives Dusty Johnson and John Garamendi, asking the OSRA co-sponsors to direct the maritime commission to address fees being incurred at rail depots for factors outside of dairy exporters’ control. Although OSRA required a stop of unwarranted fees at ocean ports, railyards currently fall outside of the commission’s jurisdiction. NMPF and its allies are advocating for Reps. Johnson and Garamendi to formally clarify the authority of the maritime commission under the OSRA to regulate these charges and facilitate more efficient and fair ocean shipping.