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Shipping Container Fiasco Threatens Trade Relationship With Asia, NPPC Says

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The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is calling on Congress to help fix the shipping container fiasco, which the Association says is causing bottleneck issues, including major shipping delays.

“There have been disruptions related to the availability of containers to export product,” says Neil Dierks, CEO of NPPC. “Part of that is from everybody staying home in the United States last year and buying more products, like television sets for example. It was phenomenal demand for Chinese products to be imported in the United States to the point sometimes containers returned around setback empty so they can be refilled to come back to the U.S. again. That remains an issue.”

Testifying in front of the House Transportation Subcommittee, NPPC Producer President Jen Sorenson told Congress if the issue isn’t addressed soon, more than just pork’s $7 billion export industry could be at risk. She says there are several issues plaguing the shipping industry, which is ultimately creating a major price tag on losses.

“Compounding the situation, carriers are failing to provide accurate notice to exporters of arrival/departure and cargo loading times, and then impose financial penalties on exporters for ‘missing’ those loading windows,” Sorenson testified. Those financial penalties, which are paid to the very carriers that are cancelling the orders, have been deemed unreasonable by the Federal Maritime Commission. “Ultimately, these additional costs are passed down the supply chain to farmers.”

Sorenson pointed out the West Coast is seeing the heaviest delays, since it’s the main source for products heading to the Asian-Pacific region.

"Shipping delays to the Asia-Pacific region are increasing costs and positioning the United States as an unreliable trading partner. If left unaddressed, this may also negatively impact future trade agreements with Southeast Asian trading partners as we seek better market access for U.S. pork,” she added during her testimony.

NPPC proposed a few actions to help alleviate the bottlenecks at ports, which include:

Expand operating hours for U.S. ports

Expedite Federal Maritime Commission enforcement to prevent unreasonable financial penalties for exports

“U.S. pork producers need Congress and the administration to work together to quickly engage and address these shipping delays, enabling hog farmers to continue to lead the way as a vibrant American farm sector that is critical to the rural and overall U.S. economy,” Sorenson said during her testimony.

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