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Marsha Blackburn, Colleagues Support Bipartisan Legislation to Ease Export Shipping Backlogs, Boost U.S. Exports

U.S. SenateWashington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) supported the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, bipartisan legislation that would update federal regulations for the global shipping industry.

The bill would level the playing field for American exporters by making it harder for ocean carriers to unreasonably refuse goods ready to export at ports, and it would give the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) greater rulemaking authority to regulate harmful practices by carriers.   

“The Port of Memphis is one of the busiest inland ports in the United States. However, shipping and supply chain issues have caused goods to become backlogged,” said Blackburn. “This legislation will streamline shipping regulations and make the supply chain more efficient for Tennessee manufacturers and farmers.”

“South Dakota producers expect that ocean carriers operate under fair and transparent rules,” said Thune. “Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and producers across America are paying the price.”
“The improvements made by this bill would provide the FMC with the tools necessary to address unreasonable practices by ocean carriers, holding them accountable for their bad-faith efforts that disenfranchise American producers, including those throughout South Dakota, who feed the world. Especially with record inflation in prices of goods, this legislation would also benefit consumers by promoting the fluidity and efficiency of the supply chain,” stated Thune.
“Congestion at ports and increased shipping costs pose unique challenges for U.S. exporters, who have seen the price of shipping containers increase four-fold in just two years. Meanwhile, ocean carriers have reported record profits,” said Klobuchar. “This legislation will level the playing field by giving the Federal Maritime Commission greater authority to regulate harmful practices by carriers and set rules on what fees carriers can reasonably charge shippers and transporters. As we work to improve our supply chains, I’ll keep fighting to establish trade opportunities for the U.S.”  

The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn,), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.), and a companion version was passed in the House of Representatives, which was led by U.S. Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and John Garamendi (D-Calif.).

The legislation is supported by ADM, Agriculture and Food Transporters Conference, Agriculture Transportation Coalition, Allports Forwarding Inc., American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), American Bakers Association, American Home Furnishings Alliance, American Pyrotechnics Association, American Trucking Associations (ATA), Associated Milk Producers Inc., Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers, Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, Auto Care Association, California Dairies, Inc., California Farm Bureau, California Fresh Fruit Association, Capay Canyon Ranch, CAWA – Representing the Automotive Parts Industry, Consumer Technology Association, Dairy Farmers of America, DairyAmerica, Darigold Inc., Double River Forwarding LLC, FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, First District Association, Fornazor Intl., Fragrance Creators Association’s, Harbor Trucking Association,  Hardwood Federation, High Desert Milk, Home Furnishings Association, IMC Companies, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference, ATA, International Association of Movers (IAM), International Dairy Foods Association, International Fresh Produce Association, International Ingredient Corporation, International Warehouse Logistics Association, Leather and Hide Council of America, Leprino Foods Company, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Meat Import Council of America, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Midwest Dairy Coalition, National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD), National Industrial Transportation League, National Marine Manufacturers Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Onion Association, National Retail Federation, North American Meat Institute, Northeast Dairy Farmers Cooperatives, Northwest Dairy Association, Pacific Northwest Asia Shippers Association, Pandol Bros Inc., Pet Food Institute, RB International, Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), Sartori Cheese, SB&B Foods, LLC, Schreiber Foods, ShoEi Foods USA, South Dakota Dairy Producers, South Dakota Soybean Association, Specialty Crop Trade Council, Specialty Soya & Grains Alliance, Total Logistics Resources, Inc., Travel Goods Association (TGA), Tyson Foods, U.S. Dairy Export Council, United Dairymen of Arizona, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc., Williams Clarke Company, Inc., and Western Growers.

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act would:

  • Prohibit ocean carriers from unreasonably declining opportunities for U.S. exports, as determined by the FMC in a new required rulemaking;
  • Promote transparency by requiring ocean common carriers to report to the FMC each calendar quarter on total import/export tonnage and twenty-foot equivalent units (loaded/empty) per vessel that makes port in the United States;
  • Authorize the FMC to self-initiate investigations of ocean common carrier’s business practices and apply enforcement measures, as appropriate; and
  • Establish new authority for the FMC to register shipping exchanges to improve the negotiation of service contracts. 

The FMC is the independent federal agency responsible for regulating the U.S. international ocean transportation system for the benefit of U.S. exporters, importers, and consumers. The FMC is primarily responsible for ensuring that ocean carriers and marine terminal operators engage in fair and competitive practices with respect to the movement of goods while upholding the integrity of service contracts to guard against detrimental effects to shipping.

Additionally, the FMC monitors rates, charges, and rules of government-owned or controlled carriers to ensure they are just and reasonable, which promotes fluidity and competition in U.S. international trade. 


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