The Federal Maritime Commission disclosed last month the members of its newly formed National Shipper Advisory Committee. The Committee is comprised of 24 members, evenly divided between those who export cargo from and those who import cargo to the United States, that will advise the Commission on policies relating to the competitiveness, reliability, integrity, and fairness of the international ocean freight delivery system. “The current freight transportation challenges have illustrated how prescient my colleague Rebecca Dye was in recommending to Congress that it establish this Shipper Advisory Committee at the FMC. I and the other Commissioners need rapid access to the perspectives of importers and exporters on the ground dealing with the realities of ocean shipping every day. We also need them to meet and help guide our efforts and those outside the FMC to improve the system and make it easier, fairer, and more efficient to American shippers. I am truly grateful to all of those who volunteered to serve on what I know will be an invaluable committee,” said FMC Chairman Daniel B. Maffei. Committee members will serve until December 31, 2024.
Michael Brock, Walmart
Brian Bumpass, Brenntag North America, Inc.
Justin Cauley, CHS, Inc.
Robert Connor, Mallory Alexander International Logistics, LLC
Chris Crutchfield, American Commodity Company
Rick DiMaio, Office Depot
John Esborn, Wayfair, LLC
Scott Fremont, Target
Sean Healy, The Scoular Company
Steven Hughes, MEMA/Auto Care Association
Alexis Jacobson, BOSSCO Trading LLC
Fernando Lagonell, DuPont
Alison Leavitt, Wine and Spirts Shippers Association
Daniel Miller, Cargill Incorporated
Debb Minskey, IKEA
Jennifer Morrissey, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc.
Kenneth O’Brien, Gemini Shippers Group
Adnan Qadri, Amazon
Richard Roche, Mohawk Global Logistics
Gabriel Rodriguez, A Customs Brokerage, Inc.
Randy Strait, Tyson Foods
Michael Symonanis, Louis Dreyfus
Joshua Woods, Blue Diamond Growers
Colin Yankee, Tractor Supply Company
In a press release, Mohawk Global Vice President Rich Roche said: "I am humbled to accept this appointment to serve in pursuit of betterment across the complex aspects of our Nation's supply chain, while representing the voice of Mohawk Global and more than one thousand members of the NCBFAA."
In a joint statement, MEMA President & CEO Bill Long and Auto Care President & CEO Bill Hanvey said, “Automotive vehicle suppliers represented by MEMA and Auto Care imported $76.4 billion through U.S. ports during 2019. Many of these goods were subject to further value-added manufacturing in this country. Furthermore, exports through the nation’s ports in 2019 totaled $21 billion. The ability of our ports to function is essential to our nation’s economy. Mr. Hughes’ representation on this committee is vital to our industry and the future of manufacturing in the U.S.”
Agriculture Coalition Seeks Help from President Biden
The Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC), an organization with more than 70 agriculture associations, wrote a letter to President Biden noting that they are hopeful that the newly constituted National Shipper Advisory Committee, will promptly generate specific near-term solutions. The coalition recognized the positive initiatives made by the FMC and supports the Commission’s proposals to expand its authorities to effectively address unreasonable ocean carrier practices.
"However, despite these positive steps, the problem not only persists, but is becoming even more dire. Carriers are increasingly declining or cancelling export cargo bookings, while frequent ship delays and cancellations with little or no notice to our exporters, is delaying shipments by weeks or even months. The resulting inability of shippers to deliver their products on schedule affects the reliability of American exports, and subsequently decreases export values and market share. The cost to ship a container has increased between 300 and 500 percent in the past 2 years; U.S. producers are losing from 10-40 percent of their export value to these added costs; an informal survey suggests that U.S. agriculture exporters’ inability to perform is leading to a loss of 22% of their sales."
"We realize that the challenges our agriculture exporters face will not change overnight. But with the holiday import surges soon upon us, the challenge is growing. Regulatory action and enforcement steps take time to be implemented, and while those important processes need to move ahead, we call on you and your administration to take effective steps to gain immediate relief. Recognizing that relief may be incremental, it must begin very soon."
A copy of AgTC's letter can be viewed here.
A senator from New Hampshire also made a similar request in a letter addressed to FMC Chairman Daniel Maffei.
U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) urged the FMC to address the surge in costs to import goods that threatens the operations and economic recovery of businesses across New Hampshire. Shaheen noted the existential threat facing small businesses who cannot afford container rates whose costs, in some cases, have increased by over 1,000 percent, and requested that the Commission take action to protect businesses from these unsustainable freight rates.