NMPF Presses for Supply Chain Fixes

NMPF welcomed progress on legislation to address the supply chain challenges facing U.S. dairy exporters this month.  The U.S. Senate passed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA) by voice vote on March 31, following the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee’s March 22 unanimous approval of the bill. Working with the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and a coalition of agriculture organizations, NMPF contributed to shaping the bill’s language and worked to secure cosponsors for the measure.

In addition to the standalone bill led by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD), the House-passed version of OSRA has been included in the America COMPETES Act (H.R. 4521), a bill soon headed to conference with the Senate’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (S. 1260). Congress hopes to determine a path toward reconciling differences in the two bills within the next month.

NMPF also continues to work closely with its allies in Congress to ensure that regardless of its final legislative form, OSRA’s benefits address the harmful practices of foreign-owned ocean carriers and help alleviate the supply chain congestion. Shipping disruptions have contributed to well over $1.5 billion in added costs and lost sales for dairy exporters in 2021 alone.

NMPF’s Jaime Castaneda highlighted this need in a March 17 roundtable hosted by the U.S. House of Representative’s Problem Solvers Caucus. Coordinated by Reps. Jim Costa (D-CA) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD), bipartisan lawmakers gathered a small group of industry representatives, including NMPF, to identify additional steps necessary to address the supply chain crisis. Castaneda joined the panelists in urging Congress to tackle immigration reform and quickly pass OSRA as well as the Ocean Shipping Antitrust Enforcement Act (H.R. 6864), which NMPF has endorsed.

USDA also announced March 18 a new partnership with the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) on a plan to enhance access to a 49-acre “pop-up” site to accept dry and refrigerated containers for temporary storage. The move is intended to reduce operational hurdles and costs at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma and allow the agriculture industry’s containers to be loaded more quickly onto ships. NMPF is working with USDEC and USDA to identify additional pop-up locations in other regions throughout the United States.