Dairy, meat, produce and other ag producers that count on getting their commodities to Asia and beyond through West Coast ports are lauding a tentative labor agreement between Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union that’s expected to produce a six-year labor contract.

The agreement, struck Wednesday night between PMA and ILWU, must still be ratified, but praise is coming from the White House and ag groups for the deal that could bring an end to protracted and contentions negotiations that have erupted into work stoppages at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

“As I have always said, collective bargaining works, and I congratulate both parties at the ports for reaching an agreement,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “Above all I congratulate the port workers, who have served heroically through the pandemic and the countless challenges it brought, and will finally get the pay, benefits, and quality of life they deserve.”

PMA President James McKenna and ILWU President Willie Adams, both of whom praised the contributions of Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su, issued a joint statement Wednesday night, saying: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement that recognizes the heroic efforts and personal sacrifices of the ILWU workforce in keeping our ports operating. We are also pleased to turn our full attention back to the operation of the West Coast Ports.”

U.S. ag exporters who depend on stability to keep overseas customers have been some of the hardest hit by the uncertainty and service disruptions at West Coast ports.

“This is tremendous news for U.S. red meat exporters and their overseas customers,” U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO Dan Halstrom said in reaction to the labor contract deal. While the ratification process will take some time, the tentative agreement will restore stability and confidence in the performance of the West Coast ports, and this is absolutely essential for our industry.”

The American dairy industry is especially relieved by the labor agreement. 

Don’t miss a beat! It’s easy to sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse news! For the latest on what’s happening in Washington, D.C. and around the country in agriculture, just click here.

“Dairy exporters are relieved to hear of the agreement struck to keep west coast ports open for business,” Shawna Morris, senior vice president for trade policy at the U.S. Dairy Export Council, told Agri-Pulse. “Dairy farmers and manufacturers depend on reliable access to their customers in foreign markets. The recent work disruptions and threat of more upheaval to come was extremely concerning. We thank the Administration for its involvement in helping ensure product could keep flowing through these critical arteries in our supply chain network.” 

Peter Friedmann, director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, said a recent disruption shut down operations in Los Angeles and Long Beach. Those work disruptions have been costly to the U.S. ag sector, 

“US agriculture’s largest international markets are in the Asia Pacific: Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam,” Friedmann said. Given the industry’s "extremely competitive global sourcing competition,” he said American ag exports "must be faster and less expensive to keep our markets.”

For more news, go to www.Agri-Pulse.com.