The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association joined the Agriculture Transportation Coalition and national and regional agriculture organizations in sending a letter to President Obama as well as to the Senate and House of Representatives to address the West Coast port situation.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) have been engaged in protracted labor contract negotiations that are now contributing to a number of problems at West Coast ports, including congestion, slowdowns and terminal closures.
In addressing the President, the organizations asked the federal government to help resolve this situation because it is a direct threat to the President’s National Export Initiative.
With nearly half of Minnesota’s soybeans exported, MSGA President George Goblish said it was imperative that the MSGA supported this letter.
“Minnesota farmers understand the importance of our relationships with foreign buyers,” Goblish said. “We know that building those relationships takes time and commitment, but losing those customers is as simple as failing to deliver their products in a timely manner.”
Goblish said it is important for the MSGA to support the meat industry during this time as well, as nearly 30 percent of all pork products are exported.
“Our soybeans are used to feed livestock,” he said. “Those livestock producers, like our soybean farmers, rely on markets overseas, and because of the nature of their products, rely on timely shipments.”
In the letter, the organizations are asking the White House to step in and for the President to intervene personally in order to get the longshore labor back to work, end the slow downs, and compel the terminal operators and the ILWU to complete work on their contract, which expired at the end of June.
The damage to the U.S. economy is profound as agriculture is now the largest export from the United States, and one of the primary areas in which the U.S. is globally pre-eminent. But that pre-eminence is now threatened, both immediately, and for some sectors, permanently.