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.

Ag Letter

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:

  1. 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
  2.  Metrics for activities within marine terminal yards.
    • Average monthly  container  dwell time for import and export  containers
    •  Average monthly port capacity  (throughput)
  3. 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
  4.  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.