Washington Agricultural Goods to Reach International Markets Faster Thanks to New Port of SEATTLE Pop-Up Storage Site

Senator Cantwell, WA growers, USDA Under Secretary Moffitt spoke during announcement at 49-acre site, which will open in a few weeks

SEATTLE, WA – A pilot 49-acre pop-up port will open in Seattle in a few weeks. The pop-up port will allow Washington state exporters to pre-position dry and refrigerated agricultural containers to boost exports that have been stalled due to port congestion. Today Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Moffitt, Washington state farmers and local leaders to announce the new pop up port pilot project. The USDA is partnering with Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) to open the site at Terminal 46, as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Supply Chain Task Force efforts. A recording of the event is available HERE.

The site will reduce delays, operational hurdles, and costs for Washington growers to help boost exports. According to the Northwest Seaport Alliance, 24% fewer full containers were exported from NWSA ports in 2021 compared to 2019. That means products were not able to access ships, and the global market place. Growers will be able to transport their goods to the pop up port for storage, so that they can more quickly be loaded on ships at the export terminals near by. The site will be able to hold as many as 10,000 containers.

“This addresses the number one concern of growers, which was to make sure that they got their product to the markets,” said Cantwell. “Some of our growers have lost customers because of these delays. And more containers are leaving our port empty instead of being filled with Washington products. In the next few weeks, this terminal will start filling with containers full of hay, grains, apples, peas, lentils, refrigerated dairy products. Our growers can ship them here, keep them here, and when the next ship is ready to go, their product will be on it.”

“What happens here in the port is a direct link to what happens on the farm,” said Stan Ryan, President and CEO of Darigold, Inc., which is owned by nearly 350 dairy farm families in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. “Not only in our state but in the whole Pacific Northwest and all the way back to the Midwest. We are a crucial link here to all of the markets of the world.”

This just shows how incredibly good things can happen when we come together to solve really tricky issues,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Moffitt. “Since taking office, the Biden-Harris administration has been focused on addressing supply chain issues, vulnerabilities and congestion, working to speed up the movement of goods and lower costs for families.”

Senator Cantwell is also working on legislation to help boost exports and improve oversight over shipping practices. Earlier this month, at a hearing to discuss the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, Senator 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.”

Next week the Senate Commerce Committee will be voting on the act, which will crack down on unfair practices that are impacting American exporters and consumers. The bill would require the Federal Maritime Commission to crack down on bad actors that are refusing American cargo, increase oversight and investigations, and give the Commission more tools to investigate and enforce U.S. law.

Senator Cantwell is a strong supporter of long-term investments in ports and the Washington supply chain. She worked to secure $2.25 billion for Department of Transportation’s Port Infrastructure Development Program as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. 

This will bring an additional $450 million in infrastructure improvements to our ports each year for the next five years, a nearly 200% increase in annual funding.

In December 2022, the Port of Tacoma received $15.7 million from this program to support off-dock containers. Like the pop-up container facility here in Seattle, that project gives Tacoma more storage capacity to move goods in and out of the port.

In 2020, this program provided $10.6 million to modernize the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5, which is now open and accommodates some of the world’s largest container ships.

A recording of today’s event is available HERE, audio is available HERE, and a full transcript is available HERE.