Container Crisis Continues to Plague US Ag Exporters

In a press release about that meeting, USDA noted that the recent resurgence of international trade has placed nearly every sector of the supply chain under stress, including warehousing, trucking, rail service, inland and ocean terminals, container availability and vessel service. “While this disruption is impacting ports along the West Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the busiest container ports in the U.S, moving nearly a third of containerized agricultural exports by volume, have experienced the worst disruption,” said USDA.

“Export challenges began in the fall of 2020 and have escalated to include a broad range of impacted commodities and port regions. Demand in consumer trade has led to a supply crisis in the availability of shipping containers, while refrigeration challenges, lack of certainty in fee structures and booking policy inconsistencies have all made export of agricultural products more difficult for U.S. producers,” USDA added. “For far too long, farmers have struggled to find a market for their products and get a fair price for their hard work. With markets opening back up, and more appropriate prices on the board, we must work together to collectively ensure that U.S. farm products reach their intended destination in the hands of consumers around the globe. USDA will continue to serve as a key facilitator and voice for American agriculture on this very important issue.”

The DOT team highlighted current efforts underway at their department and committed to work with the Federal Maritime Commission and others to help mitigate these issues facing U.S. agriculture.

On April 27, SSGA joined nearly 300 agricultural and forest product associations and companies, including several SSGA members, in signing on to a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, urging immediate intervention to remedy the situation.

“We need action now, not additional studies,” noted the letter. “We ask the DOT to assist the Commission in expediting its enforcement options. Additionally, we urge the DOT to consider its existing authorities to determine how it can assist with the transportation needs of the U.S. exporters and the farmers and ranchers they serve, in overcoming the current challenges in shipping goods and products.”

With no sign of the crisis letting up in the immediate future, SSGA is hopeful that Secretary Buttigieg will act upon this increasingly dire situation. “Our members, allies and partners at the Agriculture Transportation Coalition have specific measures to propose and are requesting the opportunity to present them,” said SSGA.

Here is a copy of the letter sent to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg:…

Mary Kennedy can be reached at

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