Port of Oakland, Seattle-Tacoma, and The USDA Working Together to Provide Incentives for U.S. Growers Shipping Products Through the Ports

For growers who ship farm goods from the Port of Oakland, some relief is on its way. On June 2, the Port of Oakland announced it would be teaming up with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide financial aid to agricultural exporters. The Port continued to say the goal for this is to ease the pain of a year-long supply chain disruption that has been hindering farm trade.

What the Program Entails

The program is available to exporters using container ports in Oakland, Seattle or Tacoma. According to the USDA, this is how it works:

  • The USDA would pay ag shippers $200 for every container of farm goods they export
  • Exporters using refrigerated containers for perishable commodities would receive $400 per container
  • Exporters would receive an extra $125 for every empty container they pick up at a designated Oakland storage depot

The USDA’s per-container reimbursements will not cover the entire cost of moving and storing shipping containers. “The assistance provided will help ensure American-grown agricultural products can once again efficiently move through supply chains to reach global markets,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a recent USDA press release.

Commodities that are eligible for the fee are commodities which are produced in the U.S. for food, feed or fiber and products made from those items, including some forest products but excluding tobacco products, Transport Topics notes.

What This Means for Oakland

In the past year, the Port of Oakland has seen a dip in their overall container volume by as much as 10% in some months, amidst volumes continuing to soar at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, Transport Topics reports. Specifically, agriculture exports have dropped in recent months at the port (and other U.S. ports) because of the continuance of supply chain related issues.

This announcement comes after the port and USDA announced in late January their plans to open a temporary pop-up yard for agriculture companies to fill empty shipping containers with agriculture commodities. “Our partnership with USDA to open a temporary pop-up yard will go a long way in helping ag exporters,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes stated. Additionally, he discussed the need for shipping lines to bring back vessel service to Oakland, to address the high demand of export volume.

Looking Ahead

This payment program will remain in effect through the end of 2022, the USDA says. Exporters will need to submit payment applications through January 2023 to be eligible for reimbursement.

If you would like more information regarding this topic, contact our team at InterlogUSA and we will be happy to assist you on any questions or comments you may have! In addition, we have our weekly market updates that can provide you with relevant freight news, updates, developments across the industry, and more.

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