Klobuchar, Smith Applaud Plans to Ease Port Congestion and Restore Disrupted Shipping Services for U.S.-Grown Agricultural Commodities

WASHINGTON, D.C. [02/08/22] — U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith (Both D-Minn.), members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, applauded a new partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Port of Oakland, which will relieve congestion and help restore disrupted shipping nationwide. The move will make it easier for agricultural companies to fill empty shipping containers with commodities, benefitting Minnesota farmers and improving service for shippers of U.S.- grown agricultural commodities. 

“Increasing port capacity is critical to helping Minnesota farmers and businesses,” said Klobuchar. “I’ve introduced legislation to ease port congestion and will keep fighting to improve our supply chain so our state’s agricultural products can efficiently reach markets and customers around the world.”

“Reducing congestion and restoring shipping services at our major ports is essential for Minnesota farmers, rural communities, and agricultural companies throughout the supply chain,” said Senator Smith. “I applaud this creative partnership, which will help relieve bottlenecks and get Minnesota agricultural products to market more quickly and efficiently.” 

The USDA is partnering with the Port of Oakland to set up a new 25-acre “pop-up” site to make it easier for agricultural companies to fill empty shipping containers with commodities. As ocean carriers circumvented traditional marketing channels and rushed containers back to be exported empty, fewer shipping containers have been available for U.S. agricultural products, and many carriers have suspended service altogether. The USDA is now taking action to reduce these shipping disruptions that have prevented U.S. agricultural products from reaching their markets.

Senators Klobuchar and Smith have previously advocated for agricultural producers’ access to the nation’s major ports and pushed for an investigation into reports of inefficient shipping practices. Last week, Senator Klobuchar introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator John Thune (R-SD), which Senator Smith co-sponsored, to boost U.S. exports by updating federal regulations for the global shipping industry. On March 2, 2021, Senator Klobuchar led a letter, which Senator Smith joined, urging the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to continue investigating potential violations by ocean carriers, recognizing the significant impact of congestion and inefficient practices on the agricultural industry.