eNews • March 6, 2015
Promoting a Cost-Effective, Reliable and Competitive Transportation System

After port dispute, focus on U.S. export reputation

Negotiators representing the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union, whose members are West Coast dockworkers, and the Pacific Maritime Association, which negotiates on behalf of 29 West Coast ports, reached a tentative agreement to end the labor dispute that has resulted in a major disruption of service along the West Coast.

According to reports, the two sides have agreed to a five-year contract... We applaud the two sides for bringing a resolution to this lengthy dispute that has had a punitive impact on U.S. agriculture and the overall economy....

We are hopeful that the severe backlog of cargo along the West Coast can be quickly relieved. More importantly, we are hopeful that our reputation as the world’s most reliable supplier of agricultural and other products can be quickly restored.

Good reputations take years to accumulate and moments to evaporate. U.S. agriculture remains able to earn the business of our international customers. We are hopeful that our West Coast ports will facilitate this process and no longer be an obstacle to it.

The disruption on the West Coast has not impacted bulk shipments of agricultural products. Twenty-five percent of soybean exports, 35 percent of wheat exports, and 13 percent of corn exports depart from the Pacific Northwest. The overwhelming majority of those exports are loaded at grain export terminals onto bulk ocean vessels that have a separate agreement with the ILWU.

The disruption has had a tragic impact on exports of meat, fresh fruit and a host of other agricultural products. The American Meat Institute and the National Pork Producers Council claim the West Coast delays have cost each industry $40 million per week.

The long-term question remains whether it is in the best interest of U.S. agriculture and the overall economy for 13,600 highly compensated dockworkers on the West Coast to have such a pivotal role in our country’s ability to export....

The U.S. is fortunate to have a highly efficient, dynamic agricultural sector and international customers with a growing desire and appetite for these products. However, if we truly want to be the world’s preeminent exporter of agricultural and other products, we need a system of ports, including those dockworkers who service them, committed to this goal as well.

Source: Missouri Farmer Today (Guest editorial by By Mike Steenhoek)

The Soy Transportation Coalition is comprised of thirteen state soybean boards, the American Soybean Association, and the United Soybean Board. The National Grain and Feed Association and the National Oilseed Processors Association serve as ex-officio members of the organization.

Soy Transportation Coalition
1255 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy., Ankeny, Iowa 50023
Phone: (515) 727-0665 Fax (515) 251-8657
Email msteenhoek@soytransportation.org
Web www.soytransportation.org

Funded by the Soybean Checkoff