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West Coast Labor Dispute Is Hurting Agricultural Exports, NMPF and Others Say

February 5, 2015

NMPF joined more than 90 other agriculture and related groups last week in urging West Coast shippers and dockworkers to settle a dispute that has hampered exports, cut revenues, and wasted food, including dairy products intended for export across the Pacific.

The dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association began last summer, and has led to a slowdown in exports leaving West Coast ports.

In an open letter to both sides, the 92 agriculture groups said: “This regrettable situation is having a severe impact on our ability to export agricultural and food products to many of our main export markets… A more immediate problem, however, is the effect the drastic reduction in containers being loaded is having on perishable commodities. Those goods are spoiling and being destroyed before they can be shipped or are being diverted to the domestic market at severe discounts.”

The farm and food groups noted that exports of agricultural products have exploded in the last 20 years, growing from $46 million in 1994 to $144 billion in 2013. They urged both sides to resolve their differences quickly. They also asked the federal government to use “all available remedies” to end the dispute.