MANKATO, MINNESOTA, US — Addressing supply chain concerns that also are having a direct impact on agriculture exports from the United States, the US Senate’s recent passage of its version of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act was praised by the Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance (SSGA).

The bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by US Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and John Thune of South Dakota, was passed on a voice vote on March 31. It now heads to conference committee where differences with the version that passed the US House in December will be reconciled before a final vote in both chambers. 

“Our members and others have been waiting for the hope of relief,” said Eric Wenberg, executive director of SSGA. “We have been consistently messaging that we’ve needed it, and we thank Sen. Thune and Sen. Klobuchar for their leadership on this matter. We believe in the Federal Maritime Commission’s ability to act on behalf of US companies, and this reform will give FMC the tools it needs.

“This needs to pass the House and Senate conference with speed so a workable bill that provides relief gets sent to President Biden’s desk as soon as possible.”

The bill would provide the Federal Maritime Commission with new, additional enforcement authority, ensure a more competitive global ocean shipping industry and provide relief to US exporters, including SSGA-member agricultural exporters, who have struggled with significant supply chain disruptions over the past two years, SSGA said.

The Senate bill provides FMC with additional enforcement tools to address unreasonable and unfair ocean carrier practices that have been harmful to US exporters, SSGA said, including prohibiting carriers from unreasonably declining opportunities to US exports. 

SSGA, a national association of companies focused on production, processing and shipping of US Identity Preserved field crops and their related products worldwide, has supported passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act and was among the first groups to sound the alarm on the supply chain crisis in October 2020.