USDA to offer shipping container assistance for agricultural export

by Staff report
| July 4, 2022 1:00 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in late May that the Farm Service Agency is accepting applications from interested agricultural producers and exporters for the agency’s Commodity Container Assistance Program, which is designed to make it easier for agricultural exporters trying to ship out of Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma to get shipping containers.

“Ongoing market disruptions have created logistical challenges associated with the availability and flow of shipping containers to transport agricultural commodities, which has prevented or delayed American-grown agricultural commodities from reaching their markets,” the press release said.

The problem has been especially crucial in the Pacific Northwest, the press release noted, citing figures from the Northwest Seaport Alliance — which runs the ports of Seattle and Tacoma — of a 30% decline in the export of U.S. farm commodities in the second half of 2021 as shippers quickly sent back empty containers for more imports rather than hold them to be used by U.S. exporters.

Under the program, USDA has established “pop-up” storage sites at the Port of Oakland and the ports of Seattle and Tacoma — run by the Northwest Seaport Alliance — to store empty standard and refrigerated containers, giving farm exporters easier access to shipping containers. In addition, FSA will pay exporters to help them cover their container costs, according to the press release.