Supply chain issues addressed in Michigan

Source: Michigan Farm Bureau

How do we uncork the bottlenecks in ocean shipping?

It’s a big question that lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are trying desperately to answer as all sectors of the economy — including agriculture — feel the financial effects of the delays.

Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), chair of the Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freight, and Ports, held a hearing Tuesday to examine the impacts of COVID-19 on the ocean shipping supply chain.

“The ocean shipping network, which is responsible for 90% of global trade, has gone from being a system that was both fast and cost effective to one plagued by delays and exorbitant pricing practices,” Peters said. “In short, our supply chains can be very efficient, but they are not resilient.”

Peters believes the Great Lakes can play a significant part in reducing backlogs.

“Ports in Michigan and across the Great Lakes St. Lawrence seaway system are ready-made relief valves that are currently underutilized,” Peters said. “As we explore solutions to strengthen our shipping and supply chains, we must be sure to look to the Great Lakes to help fill in the gaps when possible.”

Michigan Farm Bureau President Carl Bendarski said MFB is eager to see what solutions can be implemented and is working to take a proactive role in helping alleviate the crisis.

“Supply chain issues are causing farmers to experience crushing delays in receiving critical supplies and contributing to skyrocketing prices for the fertilizers necessary to sustain a strong and nutritious food supply,” Bednarski said.

“Understanding and addressing the underlying causes of ocean shipping supply chain delays is critical to helping farmers in Michigan, and across the country, as we work to overcome the many challenges we face.”

Preferred Popcorn CEO Norm Krug — a farmer from Chapman, Nebraska, who grows popcorn, corn and soybeans — told the committee that delays in shipping orders cost him customers overseas who were critical to making ends meet when U.S. theatres shut down during the pandemic.

“Explaining the global freight crisis to our customers has now become part our daily routine,” Krug said. “Because we were not able to ship the necessary containers, we have lost many sales entirely; many times to our competitors who produce popcorn in other countries.”

During the hearing, ranking Republican committee member Sen. Deb Fisher (R-NE) said experts believe the supply chain issues could persist through 2022 and into 2023.

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