Over 100 Members of the House Send Letter to Address Carriers Declining to Ship U.S. Agriculture Exports from U.S. Ports

March 10, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Representative Dusty Johnson (R-SD) today along with 100 of his colleagues, led a bipartisan group of Members in a letter to Michael A. Khouri, Chair of the Federal Maritime Commission, voicing concern over reports that certain vessel-operating common carriers (VOCCs) are declining to ship U.S. agricultural commodity exports from U.S. ports.

VOCCs serve as an integral link between American producers and overseas customers, without which contracts cannot be met and the ability to compete in or even access foreign markets is threatened.

Read the full letter here.

“Market access is only as good as the access to shipping infrastructure,” said Johnson. “Once again, China is participating in unfair trade practices, prioritizing empty shipping containers over U.S. agriculture products. America’s farmers work hard to produce a high-quality product, and we can’t allow China to shut them out of the market.”

Over the past year, American producers, exporters, and entire economic sectors have grappled with widespread delays, bottlenecks, and increasing fees at our ports. These challenges are exacerbated by reports that VOCCs are delivering shipments to U.S. ports and then electing to leave without refilling empty containers with American goods for export. Such activity constricts entire supply chains and propels trade to move only in an inbound direction.

In March 2020, the Federal Maritime Commission launched Fact Finding No. 29, “International Ocean Transportation Supply Chain Engagement,” to investigate all the congestion, bottlenecks, and fees seen at our ports. In November, Fact Finding No. 29 was expanded to include reports of the decline to ship American exports.