Soybean Association, farm groups push for end to West Coast port dispute

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2015 -- The American Soybean Association (ASA) and more than 90 other farm and commodity organizations are calling for a quick resolution of a labor dispute that has disrupted operations at West Coast ports, costing the agricultural industry millions of dollars a week.

Lets Talk Food

In an open letter, ASA and the other groups urged both the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) to take into account the impact the dispute is having on consumers. They also urged the federal government to consider all available remedies to bring the dispute to a rapid end, noting the potentially dire consequences of not reaching an agreement that gets each port back up and running quickly.

“This regrettable situation is having a severe impact on our ability to export agricultural and food products to many of our main export markets,” the groups wrote in the letter. “Inevitably, these overseas customers will look to other sources for their supply of these goods. Similar to what we encountered after ill-advised export embargoes in the past, once lost, a foreign customer can be difficult to recapture.”

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A more immediate problem, the groups said, is the “drastic reduction” in loading of containers containing perishable commodities. These goods are spoiling before they can be shipped, or are being diverted to the domestic market at severe discounts.

“This represents an unconscionable waste of food products and a serious loss in revenue for U.S. producers,” the groups said in the letter.

The ILU's contract with the terminal operators expired last summer. Contracts talks have dragged on for months. A federal mediator joined the talks earlier this month and in recent days there have been reports of progress.

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