California ports reopen but reliable transportation for ag products uncertain

A pair of West Coast ports have resumed exporting ag commodities after a temporary shutdown due to failed labor contract negotiations.

Mike Steenhoek with the Soy Transportation Coalition says products that are shipped in bulk were unaffected but that’s not the case for containers. “Soybeans and soy products, and a variety of other agricultural products like chilled meat, fresh fruit and vegetables.  That’s a lot of freight moved via container and it impacts those shipments.”  

 The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California halted operations Thursday and Friday when union workers went on strike during contract negotiations.

He tells Brownfield while it was only a temporary closure, it creates more uncertainty for the US food supply chain. “If they can’t provide that certainty, they should fully expect the percentage that they handle coming into and out of the United States continue to dwindle, which is what we’re seeing, but that will only increase if they’re not providing reliability and certainty.”

Steenhoek says companies can move products to other ports, but that increases transportation costs and the likelihood of perishable ag products being unusable.

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