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Cool Cargoes October 2015

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COOL CARGOES THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE 23 R-S.D., chairman of the Commerce, Sci- ence and Transportation Committee, the industry representatives stressed that "the highly negative economic impacts from the recent slowdowns and conges- tion at our West Coast ports caused by prolonged labor negotiations and other operational issues demonstrate how vital efficient ports are to the U.S. economy. "Unfortunately," the letter continued, "many of the nation's largest blue water container ports have become bottlenecks in recent years. Ports can experience slowdowns and congestion for a variety of reasons: weather, equipment shortages, labor strife and lack of infrastructure, to name a few. As we witnessed on the West Coast, when a serious port disrup- tion occurs, the impacts are far-reaching. Expor ters lose customers overseas. Per ishable products a re destroyed. Manufacturers have to slow down or stop assembly lines because just-in-time inventory becomes impossible to manage. Retail goods are delayed or miss impor- tant selling seasons." Rosenbusch added, "Our goal, and that of all the coalition members, is to ensure that any labor situations that arise in the future get handled further out and in a little more progressive a manner than they've been dealt with in the past. "If last fall and winter show us any- thing, it's the huge impact labor unrest at our ports can have on the entire coun- try," he stressed. "What we want to see in the form of legislation is some early warning requirements, to let everyone know a situation like we saw earlier this year is possible, and we want the federal government to require that negotiations start sooner rather than later. Finally, among the other things we want to see is Congress authorize the states to enforce provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act (the federal law restricting the power and activities of labor unions), so that action can be taken more quickly and decisively when labor discussions occur." CC Contact Lara L. Sowinski at "IF LAST FALL AND WINTER SHOW US ANYTHING, IT'S THE HUGE IMPACT LABOR UNREST AT OUR PORTS CAN HAVE ON THE ENTIRE COUNTRY." PORT SLOWDOWN CROPS US POTATO EXPORTS POTATO EXPORTS DECLINED IN 2014 for the first time in a decade, slipping 7 percent year-over-year, according to the U.S. Potato Board. The outlook, however, is brightening now that West Coast labor issues have sub- sided, and the strengthening euro and a weaker European potato crop also could boost U.S. potato exports, said John Toaspern, the board's chief marketing officer. Still, Toaspern said the effects of the West Coast port slowdown — including repair- ing relationships with foreign buyers — are still being resolved. On a positive note, the U.S. Potato Board is reallocating some of its U.S. Department of Agriculture Market Access Program dollars to win back lost customers, especially those in Japan and South Korea. Japan, the largest foreign buyer of U.S. frozen potatoes, cut its U.S. volume by 23 percent and its global frozen purchases by 13 percent. — Lara L. Sowinski

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