U.S. Ag shippers voice concern over possible port closures
September 13, 2012
As the International Longshoreman’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance (marine terminal operators at the ports) prepare to resume negotiations, The Agriculture Transportation Coalition is telling its members that the disruptive impact is already being felt in locations far from the coastal seaports
“The prospect of a strike would cripple international commerce, and has U.S. exporters extremely worried of massive economic loss, to their individual companies and all others in the supply chain,” said Peter Friedmann, Executive Director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition.
Friedmann said that ocean carriers charged with moving agriculture and forest products exports to global markets, have announced “dramatic” freight rate surcharges, contingent on port disruption at any North American port.
“Such surcharges increase the cost of transportation to the extent that foreign customers could not afford U.S. agriculture products, and will turn to sources in other countries,” he said.
The prospect that these surcharges will be imposed, are already causing agriculture producers to slow production if they can, to hold back on export commitments, added Friedmann.
“So the economic injury has already begun, even before the current east and gulf coast longshore labor contract expires on September 30,” he said.
The AgTC is asking the Administration and its Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to do all in its authority to bring the parties together, to either resolve differences quickly so the prospect of a strike or port closure is eliminated, or to gain an agreement to continue working, while negotiations continue.
“This is harvest season for much of our agriculture destined for foreign markets,” said Friedmann. “Failure to keep the ports operating at full capacity this fall will have devastating impact on agriculture and thus the entire economy. The uncertainty is already slowing production and deliveries,”
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