The nine-month-old contract dispute between West Coast dockworkers and port operators is a growing economic calamity that necessitates White House intervention,” IDFA and other dairy organizations said in a letter sent last week to President Barack Obama. IDFA, the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council urged the president to “insist” that the parties work to accept the outcome of mediation.
As a result of the dispute, West Coast ports have been operating at less than 50 percent of normal volume. Agriculture industry members, including dairy businesses, have been experiencing delays of two to three weeks on chilled products because of backups at the ports, including Long Beach and Los Angeles, two of the busiest in the country.
“Asia is our number one overall destination, and our fastest growing – helping our exports grow six percent for a fifth straight record year,” the groups said in the letter. “Yet, the port slowdown has weakened this business cycle, and foreign buyers have become severely concerned about our reliability.”
The economic value of increased American dairy, food and agricultural exports has been a benefit to the terminals and the thousands of dockworkers who handle the shipments, but the contract stalemate is causing “tremendous collateral damage,” the groups said. They estimate that the losses are likely to reach billions of dollars, not counting the lost jobs, export markets and income for families and businesses across the country.
Read the letter here.
For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.