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NMPF and USDEC Statement on Senate Introduction of Ocean Shipping Reform Act

February 3, 2022

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) today commended lawmakers for introducing bipartisan Senate legislation to address the shipping challenges the dairy industry and other U.S. agricultural sectors are facing. The legislation, should it become law, would help alleviate delays and disruptions at U.S. ports that have been a critical part of the export supply chain challenges plaguing U.S. exporters.

Sponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD), the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (S. 3580) is the Senate response to the House version (HR 4996) passed by a wide bipartisan vote (364 – 60) in December. Senators Baldwin (D-WI), Hoeven (R-ND), Stabenow (D-MI), Marshall (R-KS), Peters (D-MI), Moran (R-KS), Blumenthal (D-CT), Young (R-IN), Kelly (D-AZ), Blackburn (R-TN), Booker (D-NH), and Ernst (R-IA) also joined as original cosponsors of the bill.

“The supply chain challenges that have beset American exporters pose significant difficulties for U.S. dairy producers, causing over $1.3 billion in export losses for our sector during the first three quarters of 2021,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We greatly appreciate the leadership of Sens. Klobuchar and Thune to introduce legislation that will encourage many of the ocean carriers to stop unfair practices. We are committed to working with the Senators and their colleagues in Congress as legislation moves forward to ensure that a final law delivers the changes our exporters most urgently need to see.”

“This Senate bill takes strong strides to address many of the challenges dairy exporters have faced, including securing export vessel bookings and combatting unfair detention and demurrage charges, vital issues to ensure our products reach their intended destinations,” said Krysta Harden, president and CEO of USDEC. “When we can’t export our products, we not only jeopardize our foreign customer relationships and markets, but we also lose value-added opportunities that create jobs and investment in the United States. We look forward to continuing to work with Senators Klobuchar and Thune, and others in Congress, to address outstanding concerns and provide for the strongest possible reforms.”

USDEC and NMPF will continue to work with the Senate to strengthen the measure further as it advances through Congress.

USDEC and NMPF, in collaboration with their member Supply Chain Working Group, have leveraged a multi-pronged approach with Congress and the administration from early 2021 to address the supply chain disruptions plaguing the dairy industry, including unprecedented fees, container availability, and lack of transparency. Foreign-owned ocean carriers’ practices have been a sizable component of those problems. The organizations have provided input into the legislative text and worked closely with the sponsors of this bill to advance Congressional efforts to update the Shipping Act to encourage more reasonable and equitable access to the export shipping supply chain.

Beyond legislation, NMPF and USDEC also continue to work with Congress and the administration to identify additional measures to ease the congestion – including calling for further expanding port hours of operation, increased data transparency, and investments in key supply chain infrastructure.