Cantwell Moves Shipping Reform Legislation Forward, Advancing Short and Long-Term Solutions for WA Growers

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

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, led an executive session to advance the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, bringing the Senate one step closer to passing legislation to provide long-term solutions to supply chain issues impacting farmers across Washington state and the nation.

This move 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.

“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,” Cantwell continued. “Our farmers don't want special treatment. They just don't want to be exploited for the sake of record profits.”

At today’s Commerce executive session, Cantwell advanced the Klobuchar-Thune Ocean Shipping Reform Act which 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. Ocean shipping companies made $150 billion dollars in profits in 2021.

At the March 3rd hearing to examine the legislation, Cantwell said, “We are going to fight for these shippers who need to get their product to international markets, and as a very trade dependent state, I will make this the biggest priority of this Committee, if it's what it takes.”

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’s opening statement from today’s executive session is available HERE and a transcript is available HERE.

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

Video of Senator Cantwell’s opening statement from the March 3rd hearing to examine the Ocean Shipping Reform Act is available HERE, audio is available HERE, and a transcript is available HERE.