It has been, nearly, three weeks since the issues at the port began, and the situation has not experienced any improvement. Long lines at the receiving terminal, the constant changing of containers, and the uncertainty of vessel departure times have led to higher costs on containers, storage fees as well as transportation.
With the processing season in full swing, more goods including cotton and tree nuts are expected to leave the ports for destinations across the seas. The effects of the delays at the ports have caused uncertainty among producers as to when their products will be delivered. The California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association (CCGGA) and the Western Agricultural Processors Association have been collecting information from many of our members regarding their experiences with the ports up to this point. Some of the repetitive reports that CCGGA and WAPA are receiving regards the long lines that transportation trucks have to wait in. One almond processor explained that “…the truckers are having to wait in lines for hours and sometimes they will wait in line for 4 to 6 hours and then get turned away because they decided to close.” This, in turn, is driving the price of transportation higher, as drivers are having to spend all day waiting in line to deliver one container. Container prices are also climbing because shipments are often being received, only to be transferred to a storage yard.
Not only are producers paying more to have their goods stored, but the delays at the ports also have the potential to cost the industry future business. “We have bookings that have rolled or been delayed by weeks. This creates a huge problem, especially when the sales are guaranteed delivery by a certain date,” wrote one almond shipper. Demand for tree nuts overseas is at its peak, and buyers are willing to find other producers or methods to meet their demands. One walnut processor was forced to pay twice as much in transportation fees to have his containers picked up from a storage yard at the port, and trucked across the country to the port in Montreal.
These issues must be resolved quickly in order to keep the industry functioning properly. CCGGA and WAPA have participated in conference calls with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, informing Secretary Karen Ross of the effects our industry is experiencing. To ensure that your voices are heard, WAPA has been sending updated reports to the Governor’s office, as well as Senator Feinstein’s office to collectively find a solution. If you have experienced the long lines at terminals, had your goods transferred to a storage yard when it should have been on an outgoing vessel, or have had to find other means of shipment to ensure your deadlines are met, we want to hear from you. Please send your information to Chris McGlothlin (firstname.lastname@example.org).