Almond Alliance Signs On to Letter Urging Resolution To West Coast Port Slowdowns
As many handlers and exporters are well aware since late October it has been increasingly difficult to get shipments out of West Coast ports due to labor disputes between Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).
Almond Alliance has joined the West Coast Port Labor Negotiations Coalition based out of Washington DC who is elevating the impacts of the slow down to the White House, Congress and media.
Over 92 organizations recently signed on to a letter urging PMA and ILWU to take into account how this slowdown is impacting their fellow Americans and urging the Federal government to consider all available remedies to bring a rapid end to this dispute.
Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Nicolaus) and Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) sent a joint bi-partisan letter signed by 39 members of the Legislature to PMA and ILWU urging a swift resolution and highlighting the impact the slowdown has had on the California agricultural and recycling industries in particular. Click here to read the letter.
Almond Alliance continues to gather data and exporter anecdotes to voice the impact this slowdown is having on our industry. We encourage our members to share any impacts this is having on your company with us to include in our efforts. You can contact Kelly Covello at 209-300-7140
Federal FAST ACT – Support
The Almond Alliance participates in a national coalition led by the National Retailers Federation that continually works on transportation issues, in particular on efforts to mitigate the impact to importers and exporters when port disruptions occur as a result of labor negotiations. Over the last year there have been two major accomplishments related to these efforts.
In late 2015, President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act which included requirements for a Port Performance Freight Statistics Program. The FAST Act requires the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) to establish a working group to advise BTS on matters related to the port performance measures. The Coalition submitted a letter in January to Anthony Foxx, Secretary of the Department of Transportation outlining key metrics that should be included and that would also be an important tool for U.S. policy-makers on a wide variety of issues, from the development of an intermodal freight policy to international trade policy.
The coalition identified key performance indicators that need to be developed in four important areas:
- Metrics for activities at the berth.
- Monthly average lifts per hour by vessel size and berth size
- Monthly average vessel turn time by vessel size and berth size
- Metrics for activities within marine terminal yards.
- Average monthly container dwell time for import and export containers
- Average monthly port capacity (throughput)
- Metrics for truck gate operations.
- Average monthly total truck turn time
- Chassis Availability
- Trouble Tickets – issued to a trucker when the container he/she has come to pick up is not available
- Metrics for on-dock rail operations (when applicable to the port)
The second major development that was supported by the Coalition was the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore and Warehouse Union agreement to meet and discuss the concept of a contract extension which is tentatively scheduled for November 1 and 2. While the current contract covering 29 west coast ports does not expire until July 1, 2019 our hope is that the parties can come to an agreement far in advance of the contract’s expiration.
Trans Pacific Partnership – Support
The Almond Alliance has been and will continue to advocate for support of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) as ratification of this trade agreement will benefit the almond industry while also setting the stage for the United States’ position in global trade moving forward.
Some of the TPP benefits for California almonds include the following:
- Japan, Malaysia, and Vietnam will eliminate tariffs on all tree nuts, including almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts,and walnuts.
- Japan’s previous tariff on almonds was 2.4%
- Vietnam’s previous tariff on almonds was 10-15%
- A “Rapid Response” system should help expedite resolution when loads are detained on import for phytosanitary issues.
- Greater transparency on sanitary and phytosanitary requirements based on science.
Many almond industry members have expressed their support for TPP, and have indicated they anticipate its ratification will result in increased shipments and job creation here in California.