Protracted labor negotiations affecting West Coast ports are posing a threat to U.S. agricultural exports and to President Barack Obama’s National Export Initiative, said 60 business organizations, including IDFA, in a letter sent to the president this week. They urged him to “use all tools available to the federal government” to restore the ports to full operation while negotiations continue.
Congestion, slowdowns and terminal closures currently are causing millions of dollars in economic injury to a wide variety of industries because it’s a busy time of year for agriculture exports. In addition to IDFA, the coalition includes 59 companies and organizations that represent agriculture and forest products exported from the United States.
“The disruption is a result of marine terminals closing due to labor stoppage, ships being forced to skip port calls or to re-route, and truckers are limited by endless lines at port gates,” the organizations said. “And if products cannot be delivered on time to the foreign customer, the customer will source from other countries such as Brazil, Australia, Chile or Argentina.”
The organizations suggested bringing in a federal mediator to help resolve the contract dispute. In the event of a strike or lockout, they asked the President to consider invoking the Taft-Hartley Act to keep exports moving and protect the U.S. economy.
For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at email@example.com.