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Recent Slowdowns-Stoppages at West Coast Ports Concerning to U.S. Agriculture

Recent work stoppages and slowdowns at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, caught the attention of agriculture. Dan Halstrom, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, says the trouble has cleared up for now.

“They’re back to normal though, but this centers around the Longshoremen contract that has not been renewed yet, dating back to July of last summer. We’re very concerned about this issue on the west coast because a large percentage of our beef and pork exports, especially the chilled exports, go off the west coast. Hopefully, that was a one-off incident, and we won’t see a recurrence, but yeah, we had work shutdowns for a day or two.”

He says port workers haven’t had a contract since mid-2022.

“Last July, and that’s not unusual. That happens, it seems like, whenever they renew the contract, but it’s now dragging into April of the following year, so it’s a bit concerning. Indications are that progress is being made, but meanwhile, we’re still waiting for it to be concluded. So yeah, the fact that there were some slowdowns and stoppages is very concerning from our point of view.”

A long slowdown or stoppage in work at the nation’s ports would hit US. Agriculture in the pocketbook.

“It wasn’t that long ago, during COVID, where we had that very situation where things were getting backed up on the West Coast. And we certainly don’t need to relive those times, because one of the things that’s a really effective marketing tool is our reliability as an export supplier, not only of ag products but of any products going off the west coast. So, in our case, the chilled products – chilled beef and chilled pork – are some of our highest-value products. It’s essential that we’re efficient on the west coast, where we can get them out in a reasonable length of time and not have delays of a week or more. There’s a large economic impact if we get back to where we were two years ago during COVID.”

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