Cantwell Calls For Additional Pop-Up Port Sites and Supply Chain Legislation To Help Farmers

ICYMI: Cantwell announced a 49-acre pop-up site at the Port of Seattle to help Washington state farmers ease supply chain delays

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, spoke on the Senate floor, urging Congress to take action to pass the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act to provide long-term solutions to ease supply chain challenges. Earlier this week, Senator Cantwell advanced the Ocean Shipping Reform Act out of the Commerce Committee. The bill is now waiting to be scheduled for a vote on the floor of the Senate.

“I want our colleagues to know that more needs to be done with the Klobuchar-Thune bill because the container cost has gone from $1,300 per container to $11,000 per container, said Cantwell. “If we care about supply chain issues, if we care about the prices that are impacting consumers, then let's get this legislation on the floor.”

The Klobuchar-Thune Ocean Shipping Reform Act would provide the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) with greater authority needed to regulate harmful and discriminatory practices by international shipping companies; require carriers to certify that the fees they charge for delays are in compliance with federal regulations or face penalties; increase transparency on how many empty containers carriers are transported; and prohibit ocean carriers from unreasonably declining U.S. cargo, such agriculture exports, that have left been stranded at the docks.

During Tuesday’s Committee markup, Cantwell said, “The growers in my state are wondering how successful this season is going to be. Because even if the crop yield is high,?increased shipping costs and long shipping delays threaten Washington farmers and their ability to get goods to market and make ends meet…Our farmers don't want special treatment. They just don't want to be exploited for the sake of record profits.”

Advancing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act comes just days after Senator Cantwell joined U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Moffitt to announce a new 49-acre pop-up container storage site at the Port of Seattle. Farmers will be able to transport and store their goods at the pop-up site, so that they can more quickly be loaded on ships at the export terminals nearby. The pop-up site will hold upwards of 10,000 containers and will open in a few weeks to provide immediate relief for supply chain challenges. A recording of the pop-up port event is available HERE.

A list of Ocean Shipping Reform Act sponsors is available HERE.

Senator Cantwell has consistently championed Washington’s ports and coauthored the 2019 legislation that reauthorized U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP).

Most recently, the program was reauthorized in the 2021 National Defense Reauthorization Act, a provision authored by Cantwell. As Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, Senator Cantwell worked to include a record $2.25 billion for the program in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and in September 2021, Cantwell led a letter calling for increased funding for the PIDP program to help address the ongoing issues with port congestion.

Video of Senator Cantwell floor speech is available HERE, audio HERE, and a full transcript HERE.

Video of Senator Cantwell’s opening statement from the March 22nd executive session is available HERE and transcript HERE.

Video of the March 18, 2022 USDA pop-up port announcement is available HERE, audio HERE, and a full transcript is available HERE.