The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) said they joined the U.S. House of Representatives’ bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus in a roundtable on March 17 to discuss additional steps Congress could take to address the ongoing export supply chain crisis facing American exports, including dairy.

Jaime Castaneda, executive vice president for policy development and strategy for USDEC and NMPF, spoke during a panel discussion moderated by Reps. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) to identify the challenges exporters are facing in securing container and vessel space, unprecedented congestion and record fees to ship products to international customers, the Arlington, Va.-based organizations said.

“A conservative estimate of the supply chain challenges for dairy exporters in 2021 is over $1.5 billion in higher direct costs, reduced value and lost sales,” Castaneda noted in his remarks. “If this continues, we risk losing ground to our competitors in highly competitive foreign markets, which has ripple effects on the paychecks of American dairy farmers and the thousands of workers who support the export supply chain.”

Other organizations speaking at the event included the American Trucking Association, National Retail Federation, Agricultural Transportation Coalition and the National Association of Manufacturers, USDEC and NPMF said.

“Last year proved to be a very difficult and unsustainable environment for U.S. dairy exporters, as supply chain challenges risked American agricultural exporters’ reputation as reliable suppliers,” said Krysta Harden, president and CEO of USDEC. “I have heard directly from customers their intent to switch suppliers to our competitors solely because of these congestion issues. We want to thank Reps. Costa and Johnson for their bipartisan leadership in leading today’s discussion on these issues and for their invitation to be part of today’s discussion. Their work continues to be essential to American farmers and the entire agricultural value chain.”