Industry groups support shipping reform bill

Industry groups support shipping reform bill
Aug 16, 2021

The bill addresses issues which have affected ag exporters

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

U.S. farm groups are in favor of a newly introduced piece of legislation designed to address shipping issues.

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act would establish minimum service standards to help American exporters.

John Garamendi (D-Calif.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) introduced the bill in the House of Representatives on Aug. 10.

“Foreign ocean carriers aren’t playing fair, and American producers are paying the price,” Johnson said in a release. “It’s time for updated rules of the road. That’s what our bill does.”

The bill includes multiple items, including granting the Federal Marine Commission (FMC) the power to:

  • Require ocean carriers or marine terminals to certify demurrage or detention charged that comply with FMC regulations,
  • Mandate that ocean carriers can’t decline cargo if the containers can be loaded safely and within a reasonable time, and
  • Initiate investigations of an ocean carrier’s business practices and apply enforcement measures.

Industry groups support the bill because it puts everyone on a level playing field.

The bill “provides much needed oversight and transparency into maritime shipping practices, which have increasingly become too unpredictable or costly for our exporters to remain globally competitive,” Dave Puglia, president and CEO of Western Growers, said in a press release.

The American Farm Bureau, National Oilseed Processors Association and American Seed Trade Association are among the ag groups who also support the bill.

Ocean carriers, however, opposes the legislation.

Rather than creating level ground, this bill tilts in favor of the shipper.

“If the government is going to step in, it must be to assure fairness for all parties, and that means that the law must spell out responsibilities and consequences for nonperformance by all parties,” the World Shipping Council said in a statement. “The legislation does not take that even-handed approach. Just because the market has temporarily turned under stress from unprecedented U.S. consumer and business import demand does not warrant legislatively creating a commercial playing field that is unlevel and which will persist for many years if enacted.”

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