Rep. Schrier Sends Letter to Biden Admin Port Envoy About 8th District Agriculture Supply Chain Disruptions

October 12, 2021
Press Release

ISSAQUAH, WA – Congresswoman Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08) recently sent a letter to the White House’s Port Envoy John Porcari inviting him to visit the 8th District and offer her assistance as the White House “untangle(s) the pandemic-related knots in our global supply chain.”

In her letter, the Congresswoman said “For more than a year, these exporters have shared with me how pandemic conditions and the behavior of shipping carriers are impacting their industries, threatening export markets and relationships developed over decades. They often don’t know when a ship will be in port, making it difficult to get their products to the carrier in time. They are forced to pay additional fees when their products, often perishable, have to wait at the port to be loaded onto a ship. And shipping carriers are opting to return as many empty boxes to China as possible for fast turnaround, rather than accepting U.S. exports. This rejection threatens to upend our nation’s agricultural industry for years to come.”

Rep. Schrier cited USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack’s recent announcement of $500 million made available for relief from global market disruptions as “a positive step forward.” She went on to ask for an update on actions Port Envoy Porcari is taking to prevent foreign shippers from charging American exporters exorbitant fees and prevent further consolidation in the shipping industry.

Rep. Schrier finished the letter with an invitation for Port Envoy Porcari to visit the 8th District to meet growers and exporters and allow them to share their experiences with the Port Envoy.

Earlier this year, Rep. Schrier held a meeting with Federal Maritime Commissioners to detail the issues 8th District exporters are having related to getting their goods to foreign markets. She also sent a letter to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) with concerns that foreign shipping companies are prioritizing foreign goods to U.S. agriculture products. In that letter she offered Congressional action if it would help the FMC take action in defense of U.S. exporters. Lastly, earlier this summer the House passed Rep. Schrier’s amendment to the FY2022 Appropriations legislation to direct the FMC to enhance assistance to U.S. exporters and importers who continue to face barriers to export their agricultural goods to foreign markets.

The full letter to Port Envoy Porcari can be found below.

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Dear Mr. Porcari:

I’m writing to introduce myself and my Congressional District, and to offer my assistance to you as you work with the Administration to untangle the pandemic-related knots in our global supply chain.

Washington’s 8th Congressional District stretches from the suburbs of Seattle across the Cascade Mountains into the rich farmland of Central Washington. It is home to some of the nation’s largest agricultural producers and exporters whose hay, apples, pears, and cherries are in high demand around the world.

For more than a year, these exporters have shared with me how pandemic conditions and the behavior of shipping carriers are impacting their industries, threatening export markets and relationships developed over decades. They often don’t know when a ship will be in port, making it difficult to get their products to the carrier in time. They are forced to pay additional fees when their products, often perishable, have to wait at the port to be loaded onto a ship. And shipping carriers are opting to return as many empty boxes to China as possible for fast turnaround, rather than accepting U.S. exports. This rejection threatens to upend our nation’s agricultural industry for years to come.

I support any enforcement action that will ensure ocean carrier compliance with the Shipping Act and will bring desperately needed relief to our exporters. To that end, I co-sponsored the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021, voted to increase funding for the Federal Maritime Commission, and worked to direct the Commission to use those extra funds to do more to assist U.S. exporters through this appropriations process.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s recent announcement of $500 million made available for relief from global market disruption is a positive step forward. Getting the President’s Build Back Better agenda passed through Congress would be even more impactful. I will continue to work with my colleagues to advance an infrastructure bill that makes major investments in transportation connectivity, workforce development and supply chain support.

In the meantime, I am writing to ask for an update on actions you are currently taking under President Biden’s July 9th Executive Order to alleviate issues for WA producers. How are you working with the Federal Maritime Commission to prevent shippers from charging American exporters exorbitant fees? What progress been made under this Executive Order to prevent further consolidation in the shipping industry?

Finally, I invite you to visit the 8th District to meet with growers and exporters here. They would gladly share their experiences with you. We would all appreciate the opportunity to share with you the challenges we are facing in Washington.

Sincerely,

Kim Schrier
Member of Congress