Congress Passes Ocean Shipping Reform Act; International Fresh Produce Association, National Retail Federation, National Restaurant Association, and California Fresh Fruit Association Comment
UNITED STATES - It was recently revealed that Congress has passed the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act (S. 3580), created to streamline the process for the importation and export of all goods. The White House has noted that President Biden will sign the legislation into law immediately following final Congressional approval. In response to this announcement, the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) and the National Retail Federation (NRF) recently released statements detailing its impacts on the industry.
“The bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act (S. 3580) provides much-needed relief for our nation’s ports, in particular for the fresh produce industry that relies heavily on reliable, efficient ocean transport of fresh produce,” said IFPA Chief Public Policy Officer Robert Guenther in a recent statement. “This legislation empowers the Federal Maritime Commission to broadly regulate ocean shipping and ensure the timely delivery of perishable goods at all levels of the fresh produce supply chain. At a time of rising costs and high inflation, we applaud the passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act and relief it will ultimately bring to fresh produce consumers and businesses.”
As explained by IFPA in the statement, this legislation is aimed at ending the unreasonable practice of ocean carriers returning to foreign ports empty when they could be carrying United States exports, particularly those vessels capable of delivering agricultural products.
NRF’s Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French also issued a statement following the Act’s approval.
“Retailers and thousands of other businesses depend on the global maritime transportation system to move goods through the supply chain every day and continue to face significant challenges, including unfair business practices by ocean carriers,” French stated. “Making OSRA federal law helps address long-standing systemic supply chain and port disruption issues that existed well before the pandemic by providing the Federal Maritime Commission the additional authority it needs. Additionally, it provides critical updates to the international maritime transportation system, which has been severely impacted by COVID-19. We commend Congressmen John Garamendi and Dusty Johnson and Senators Amy Klobuchar and John Thune for their bipartisan leadership on this important legislation.”
As noted by the NRF, these improvements come at a time when inflation has reached a 40-year-high.
The National Restaurant Association also applauded the passage of the Act.
“Whether it’s food, packaging, or equipment restaurants depend on, supply chain disruptions are so bad, American importers and exporters are paying the highest shipping rates ever recorded for the worst service levels ever experienced,” said Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “There’s no silver bullet that will solve the nation’s supply chain challenges, but we’re hopeful this legislation will provide some relief by updating federal regulations for the global shipping industry. After months of advocating with our supply chain partners for these changes, we hope modernization of the Ocean Shipping Act will help reduce shipping costs and improve supply chain challenges.”
California Fresh Fruit Association's Director of Trade Caroline Stringer, who represents CFFA at the Agriculture Transportation Coalition to ensure that the needs of California fresh fruit industry are heard, also issued a statement.
“California’s fresh fruit growers and shippers have spent years developing export markets and they take great pride in delivering the best tasting fruit to customers across the globe," she said. "To do that, they need reliable ocean transport. Our industry is facing a third season of unprecedented costs associated with ocean transport. OSRA provides a critical first step in righting the ship, so to speak.”
CFFA President Ian LeMay also spoke on this issue.
“The California Fresh Fruit Association welcomes the passage of OSRA by the House of Representatives this week and is eager to see it earn the President’s signature. This is a positive first step in mitigating longstanding issues with ocean shipping, which are vital to sustaining our relationships with our global partners. CFFA would also like to draw attention to and express our appreciation for the bipartisan work conducted in both the House and Senate. The bipartisan work sends a strong message to our members that when presented with important issues, both Houses still can rise to the occasion and execute to achieve great things.”
A full summary of the legislation can be found here.
More updates on the fresh produce industry are always available here at ANUK, so stay tuned.