West Coast Port Challenges Reach Boiling Point; Member Input Needed

  • On February 24, 2021
  • American Seed Industry, ASTA, Exports, Federal Maritime Commission, FMC, Maritime Ports, Seed Industry, West Coast Maritime Ports

Maritime ports continue to experience record-breaking congestion, delaying both import and export cargo. The agriculture community is concerned with recent unfair and unreasonable practices by ocean carriers and marine terminal operators. These practices include: rejection of export bookings in favor of sending empty containers back to Asia; burdensome detention and demurrage fees when the circumstances are out of the shipper’s control; and unpredictable export receiving dates. ASTA has raised the issue at the federal level; in response, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and Members of Congress have requested specific examples of the financial burden these practices have had on seed businesses. Please send anecdotes to Abigail Struxness. All company details will be kept anonymous.

As of February 19, there were 22 container ships anchored and waiting to offload cargo at the Port of Oakland, and 30 container ships anchored outside the Ports of LA and Long Beach. In April 2020, the FMC put out an Interpretive Rule regarding unfair practices of charging detention and demurrage, following Fact Finding #28, yet the carriers have not complied with this voluntary guidance. The FMC is also conducting an investigation under Fact Finding #29 on how the pandemic has impacted ocean shipping, and recently issued an information demand to carriers on their current practices.