Dairy Asks For Supply Chain Relief

The U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation is asking the Biden administration to provide relief and support to dairy farmers and exporters facing supply chain constraints.

The letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called for interagency collaboration to enhance capacity at ports, incentivize carriers to load export cargo, and improve transparency throughout the supply chain. The lead recommendation called for USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service to restart its Ocean Shipping Container Availability Report.

“Supply chain challenges have cost U.S. dairy exporters over $1.5 billion last year alone,” says Krysta Harden, president and CEO of USDEC.

She thanks Vilsack and Buttigieg for their advocacy and creative solutions, such as the development of ‘pop-up’ sites for ag exporters to source empty containers.

“The additional recommendations … would provide agricultural exporters much needed insight into container availability and provide avenues to incentivize carriers to load outbound shipments to key dairy markets around the world,” says Harden.

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern says shipping containers for U.S. dairy exports continue to be in short supply at coastal ports, and even more scare at inland locations.

“These essential links in the global supply chain must be available to American dairy exporters throughout the country in order to ship their products to overseas buyers,” he says. “As congestion continues, so too must the spectrum of tools deployed to address these challenges.”

USDA Secretary Vilsack responds to request for further dairy supply chain assistance

The specified programmatic elements to provide supply chain relief include:

  • restart the Ocean Shipping Container Availability Report, which would detail the availability of ocean shipping containers at locations throughout the nation
  • establish inland pop-up terminal yards to enable greater access inland to containers and improve the ability to secure vessel accommodations with short earliest-return-date windows at those locations
  • develop the ‘fast lane’ concept to incentivize the flow of ag exports into and from ports, such as trucking lanes at port terminals that are dedicated to the expeditious delivery of perishable agriculture goods to ports
  • incentivize ocean carriers to load more export containers, instead of empty containers
  • include real-time tracking of containers as part of the Administration’s Freight Logistics Optimization Works initiative
  • pilot projects with carriers for ‘dual turns’ of containers, wherein containers delivering imports to an in-land location may be provided directly to an export-focused shipper, rather than being sent back empty to the port