A letter from Secretaries Ross and Kim to the leading companies shipping to California ports
We are writing to request that ocean carriers take full advantage of underutilized California ports, including the Port of Oakland, to ease congestion in the San Pedro Bay. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently made a similar request and we wholeheartedly concur with them.
California Governor Gavin Newson’s Administration has been working closely with the Biden-Harris Administration’s White House Supply Chain Disruption Task Force, and California has taken a series of actions to address supply chain disruption caused by COVID-19. We have also been working directly with the Port of Oakland and California agricultural exporters to ease access to international markets for agricultural exports. It is our strong belief that restoring ocean carrier service to the Port of Oakland would ease congestion in the San Pedro Bay and better enable American agricultural products to be exported.
In October 2021, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-19-21 to address supply chain challenges. Since then, California state agencies have taken multiple steps, including temporarily issuing overweight trucking permits for international shipping containers, doubling Commercial Driver’s License testing capacity, identifying state-owned properties that can be available to address short-term cargo container storage needs, and many others. We are also planning major long-term investments that will make our internationally significant goods movement infrastructure more efficient and resilient. These actions and investments benefit ocean carriers and all those utilizing California’s global gateways in international trade.
At the same time, we have heard similar concerns expressed by Secretaries Buttigieg and Vilsack, namely that U.S. agricultural shippers have seen reduced service, uncertain return dates, and inadequate access to shipping containers to export their goods. We agree that the situation may require further intervention by the Federal Maritime Commission, and would also note that the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed California Congressman John Garamendi’s bipartisan H.R. 4996, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021, which strengthens the Federal Maritime Commission’s statutory authority to promote reciprocal trade and regulate ocean carrier service standards in the public interest.
Thank you for working with us to relieve the supply chain disruption caused by COVID-19. We urge you to help agricultural shippers of U.S. exports by restoring services to the Port of Oakland.
David S. Kim
California State Transportation Agency
Secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture