North American Meat Institute Urges President Biden to Act on Unfair Ocean Carrier Practices

By: North American Meat Institute

Announces Support for Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021

WASHINGTON, DC – The North American Meat Institute (Meat Institute), along with more than 70 agriculture associations, today called on President Joe Biden to address ocean carrier practices that are causing increased costs and delays for American businesses. To underscore the urgency of this crisis, and the need for immediate action from a broad cross-section of stakeholders, the organizations also delivered the letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Cecilia Rouse, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) Chair Dan Maffei.

Despite some positive steps implemented by the Administration, “the problem not only persists, but is becoming more dire,” said the groups in the letter.

Carriers are increasingly declining or cancelling export cargo bookings, while frequent ship delays and cancellations with little or no notice to exporters, is delaying shipments by weeks or even months. The resulting inability of shippers to deliver their products on schedule affects the reliability of American exports, and subsequently decreases export values and market share.

The letter identified concrete near-term steps the Administration and FMC could take to hold ocean carriers accountable for their actions that are burdening American workers and companies with unprecedented, onerous costs and logistical challenges. Recommendations detailed in the letter include establishing an interagency working group focused on facilitating agricultural exports and providing Federal support for deployment of port and national data-sharing portals, among other suggested steps.

“The cost to ship a container has increased between 300 and 500 percent in the past 2 years; U.S. producers are losing from 10-40 percent of their export value to these added costs; an informal survey suggests that U.S. agriculture exporters’ inability to perform is leading to a loss of 22% of their sales,” said the organizations in the letter.

The Meat Institute also expressed its strong support for the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 by signing a letter to U.S. Congressmen John Garamendi (D-CA) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD), who introduced the legislation last month. . If passed, the legislation, among other things, would prohibit ocean carriers from unreasonably declining export cargo bookings if the cargo can be loaded in a safe and timely manner and would require that carriers comply with the FMC’s Interpretive Rule on Demurrage and Detention.