Port Labor Dispute Taking Its Toll On Ag Producers
I'm Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.
Port congestion problems caused by labor disputes between the PMA and the ILWU have prevented millions of dollars of exports from reaching their final destinations in a timely fashion. Massive amounts of potatoes, hay, pears, and apples are having to be rerouted at extra expense in order to try and meet contract commitments to overseas buyers, or contracts are cancelled and the product sits. Jon DeVaney, President of the new Washington State Tree Fruit Association, says the port issue is a very serious concern for the entire industry, but unfortunately there's not a lot anyone can do to force a solution.
DEVANEY: Really the only person that can intervene to force a solution would be President Obama who could mandate federal mediation under the Taft-Hartley Act . We have been working with a lot of our elected officials, the governors office, congressional delegation and legislators in Olympia to encourage the parties to try to reach a solution sooner. In the meantime we just keep emphasizing that it's costing our industry tens of millions of dollars a week - lost sales, and it's a serious drag on the state economy as well.
Many shippers are going to be forced to sell the product on the domestic market at below market prices, which couldn't come at a worse time for Washington apple growers who had another record breaking year with roughly 150 million 40 pound boxes.
DEVANEY: We've continued to gain marketshare where we've had the opportunity to have more exposure to eastern consumers. We've seen a lot of those customers come back with a lot of interest. We're hitting bumps in the road like the port issue but we see a lot of upside in the future to continue to grow the tree fruit customer base domestically and around the world.
That's Washington Ag Today.
I'm Lacy Gray with the Ag Information Network of the West.