The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) applauded the signing of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, S. 3580, by President Joe Biden. Following passage of the legislation by the House of Representatives earlier this week by a vote of 369-42, President Biden signed the bill into law on June 16. The enactment of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act sets in motion a series of new rules and regulations regarding ocean carrier practices that the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) must implement over the course of the next year.
The legislation was introduced in response to the vocal advocacy by NMPF, USDEC and other agricultural export and shipper organizations, as problems with effective ocean freight transportation worsened in 2021. Congressmen John Garamendi (D-Calif.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), and Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced similar versions of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act in the House and Senate, which both passed speedily through their respective chambers.
“We are grateful to our congressional champions – Congressmen Garamendi and Johnson, and Sens. Klobuchar and Thune – for their leadership in getting this legislation drafted, introduced and passed so quickly. The U.S. dairy industry has suffered many challenges in getting goods smoothly and reliably to export markets due in large part to problematic ocean carrier practices. These new rules will allow the FMC to better enforce reasonable behavior by the ocean carriers,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.
“Our members continue to face significant impacts due to international ocean shipping challenges. Just last year, that resulted in over $1.5 billion in increased export costs and lost opportunities. While we can’t restore those losses, we are very pleased that President Biden and our allies in Congress quickly recognized the urgency of these problems and put their support behind legislative solutions to crack down on unjustified shipping practices,” said Krysta Harden, president and CEO of USDEC. “We urge the FMC to implement these rules quickly and begin to conduct the new oversight, regulation and enforcement necessary to end the unfair and unreasonable ocean cargo practices that have impeded American dairy products from efficiently getting to their overseas customers.”
Both organizations called on the FMC to implement the rules as expeditiously as possible to support agricultural exporters in getting more products onto vessels in order to better address rising food security needs around the world.