Feds, Oakland Seaport Offering Agriculture Exporters Financial Relief

Port of Oakland
Port of Oakland
Stacks of shipping containers at a Port of Oakland terminal. Photo: Oakland seaport.

Agricultural exporters who ship their goods through the Port of Oakland may soon be eligible for financial incentives from the port and the federal government, the port announced June 2.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture would directly pay farm exporters $200 for every agriculture container they ship and $400 for every refrigerated container they use and an additional $125 for every empty they pick up at a designated Oakland storage depot, the port said.

The port in March opened a new 25-acre paved pop-up storage yard for containers off terminal.

“Our partnership with the USDA to open a temporary pop-up yard will go a long way in helping ag exporters,” port Maritime Director Bryan Brandes said. “At the same time, we still need the shipping lines to bring back vessel service to Oakland to address the high demand of export volume.”

The federal payments were created to curb costs brought on by the recent cargo congestion. Last year, the number of agricultural exports at Oakland and other U.S. seaports plummeted as a result, according to port data.

“Both the Port of Oakland and the Northwest Seaport Alliance in Seattle have been identified as key gateways for American-grown agricultural commodities, and each has experienced significant challenges with the flow of containerized agricultural commodities and products,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “While USDA’s per-container reimbursements will not cover the full cost of moving and storing shipping containers, the assistance provided will help ensure American-grown agricultural products can once again efficiently move through supply chains to reach global markets.”

By Karen Robes Meeks