South Dakota farmers and ranchers feed and fuel the world, and consumers and businesses look to them for in-demand agricultural goods. In 2020, the state exported approximately $284 million in pork products, $279 million in beef products, and $102 million in dairy products to markets across the world. A fair, reliable, and competitive export market is essential for South Dakota producers to sustain and expand their businesses.
Unfortunately, in the last two years, agricultural exporters lost at least 22% of foreign sales due to the increased costs to ship goods overseas, coupled with shipping container delays and cancellations. South Dakota businesses especially small businesses with fewer resources to fight supply chain problems are struggling to meet the demands of their customers. Meanwhile, ocean carriers continue to report record profits as shipping costs soar, bringing in two-or-three-times the revenue they predicted.
With the help of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), we introduced the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 to help ease supply chain pressures, particularly at our nation’s ports. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation passed the U.S. Senate unanimously, and it was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives with strong, bipartisan support. It was signed into law on June 16, 2022.
The Ocean Shipping Reform Act is the most significant change to our maritime laws in a generation. The legislation will strengthen the authority of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) by providing it with new tools to help level the playing field for American exporters and counteract anticompetitive behavior. The bill will also help FMC more efficiently resolve disputes between ocean carriers and shippers, while also taking actions at the U.S. Department of Transportation to alleviate strain across the supply chain.
Our legislation will help ease supply chain pressures by addressing unfair ocean carrier practices, speeding up the resolution of disputes over carrier fees, and improving the movement of goods at our nation’s ports. It won’t solve our nation’s inflation crisis, but it should help make life easier for U.S. exporters, importers, and consumers alike. Our bill isn’t a silver bullet, but help is on the way.
Finding common ground in Washington is no easy feat, and we are grateful that the House and Senate came to an agreement on these important reforms to our nation’s shipping laws. The Ocean Shipping Reform Act proves that Congress can still do big things in a bipartisan way. We are proud to show that South Dakotans know how to work across the aisle and deliver meaningful results for our country at a time when we need it the most.