September 19, 2023

Ministry of Agriculture aims to reduce port congestion by adding capacity

The Department of Agriculture said Monday it would increase capacity at the Port of Oakland in California as part of a bid to address supply chain disruptions.

The department will help fund a 25-acre site that food businesses and farmers can use to fill empty containers with agricultural exports affected by port congestion and shipping delays. The new container yard is expected to open in early March.

The move “sends a strong signal that we are committed to working across government and with state, local and private partners to alleviate complex port capacity and congestion issues,” said Secretary Tom Vilsack. to Agriculture, in a press release.

Farm groups and farmers have long worried about supply chain issues that have disrupted delivery, including traffic jams that have left ships idle at port and exports stalled. Exporters also face higher costs due to container shortages and unexpected cancellations. The new site will solve some of those problems, allowing for faster collection of empty containers and fewer congestion surcharges, the Department of Agriculture said.

The Port of Oakland, a major port for transporting agricultural products, recorded the highest import volume in its 94-year history last year, driven by soaring consumer spending. But exports fell 8% as ships arrived weeks late and shipping companies canceled trips outright or simply returned with empty containers.

The project will cost $5 million and could serve as a model for future partnerships at other centers, an agriculture ministry official said. The federal government will cover 60% of start-up costs as well as additional logistics costs up to $125 per container.