Port of Oakland Launches Program to Expedite Agriculture Exports

The Port of Oakland is launching an interagency effort to improve its flow of agriculture exports. The program involves the use of additional yard space and equipment, restored export ship calls and assistance to export users.

The goal is to provide relief to agricultural exporters who are facing shortages of export capacity and skyrocketing logistics costs, the port explained in a Jan. 3 statement.

The port said that it plans to open and operate a 25-acre off-terminal container yard equipped to move containers off chassis and store them for rapid pick-up.

“The yard will provide access to equipment and provide faster truck turns without having to wait for in-terminal space. Agriculture exporters will be assisted by federal and state agricultural agencies to use the yard,” Oakland explained in a statement.

The Port of Oakland is among the preferred export gateways for California’s agricultural exporters and for refrigerated proteins. Normally, the cargo volume at the port is about 50% exports and 50% imports; however, the current import surge clogging up the ports is displacing ships and containers that are available to exporters, especially shipments of farm goods.

Oakland said it has seen significant drops in export volume due to skipped sailings of crucial export lines and lack of equipment for export cargo. The situation led to a meeting between state and port officials with farm producers and transportation executives to solve a year-old shipping crisis.

The meeting was led by California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development Director Dee Dee Myers, state Transportation Agency Secretary David S. Kim and state Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross. Participants included seaport stakeholders within the broad and varied agricultural commodity sectors, freight forwarders, trucking and warehousing operators.

The meeting resulted in a list of potential solutions to unclog the supply chain for agriculture exports.

“We need the shipping companies to immediately restore the export lines from Oakland to Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes remarked.

“In the meantime, the Port—along with our federal and state partners—is ready to do everything we can to help provide room and relief to help our agricultural customers,” port Executive Director Danny Wan added.

Biden Administration Port Envoy John Porcari facilitated frequent discussions with agricultural exporters, shipping lines and the Port of Oakland to lend federal support. The discussions have focused on both short-term and long-term solutions to support American agricultural exporters.

Identified long-term solutions include asset management, including availability of containers and the chassis used to transport them; and long-term supply chain strategies, including increased investment in port infrastructure.