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USDEC and NMPF Praise White House Announcement on Ocean Shipping Enforcement

March 1, 2022

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) commend President Biden for outlining a new initiative to assign Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys and litigators to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to jointly improve enforcement of the Shipping Act. The initiative also directs the DOJ to pursue further actions to increase competition in the ocean shipping industry.

NMPF and USDEC strongly endorsed these efforts as a means of promoting increased competition and better services for American dairy exporters from the ocean freight transportation system. Disruptions in the export supply chain have cost U.S. dairy shippers over $1.5 billion in 2021 due to reduced value, higher direct costs, and lost export sales.

“We are grateful to President Biden and his administration for bringing the Department of Justice and the Federal Maritime Commission together in a partnership to better enforce the Shipping Act and promote competition in the ocean carrier market,” said Krysta Harden, president and CEO of USDEC. “Laws that protect shippers are only as good as their enforcement. We urge the DOJ and the FMC to move swiftly in pursuit of steps that will help deter unreasonable ocean shipping practices that harm U.S. dairy exporters.”

“Throughout 2020 and 2021, American dairy producers and cooperatives have faced unprecedented challenges in moving dairy exports from plants to ships due in key part to the actions of the ocean carrier industry,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “The last year has clearly shown that changes are needed to tackle the unreasonable power shipping vessel owners have over America’s agricultural exporters working hard to get their goods to foreign markets. U.S. dairy exporters have been forced to endure unfair practices, including last minute changes, increased costs, and other unwarranted charges and penalties. Effective enforcement of the Shipping Act is long overdue particularly as ocean carriers enjoy record profits.”

The White House also called on Congress to address the present antitrust immunity for the predominantly foreign-owned ocean shipping alliances. On Monday evening the House moved quickly to advance reforms in this area by introducing the Ocean Shipping Antitrust Enforcement Act (H.R. 6864), which would repeal certain antitrust exemptions for ocean common carriers. Introduced by Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Adrian Smith (R-NE), John Garamendi, (D-CA), and Dusty Johnson (R-SD). NMPF and USDEC expressed support for the legislation and urged further action by Congress to advance it.