On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives advanced bipartisan legislation backed by Rep. Axne that will address congestion at U.S. ports and protect Iowa agricultural exports from supply chain disruptions.
The legislation was passed one week after Rep. Axne led a call for additional legislative action in the House to address supply chain bottlenecks and other economic issues.
The Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which passed the House today by a vote of 364 to 60, is the first major update of federal regulations for the global ocean shipping industry since 1998. The measure protects Iowa agriculture by prohibiting ocean carriers from declining to pick up U.S. exports on return journeys to trade partners.
“Foreign-owned shipping companies are currently passing up taking exports out of our ports, leaving Iowa’s agriculture sector with fewer ways to get their exports to the places around the world that feed their citizens with our homegrown goods. These massive foreign corporations are squeezing Iowa farmers, and since Iowa is the second largest exporter of agricultural goods in the U.S., we need updates like the Ocean Shipping Reform Act to give our exporters a fair playing field,” said Rep. Axne. “I’m pleased that House leadership heeded my call for additional legislative action that tackles the wide range of challenges posed by supply chain disruptions. I hope to see this measure and others signed into law as quickly as possible to alleviate these nationwide issues.”
The Ocean Shipping Reform Act is one of six bills on Rep. Axne’s Supply Chain Solutions Agenda, a collection of bills she’s urging Congress to consider which she unveiled earlier this fall.
The Ocean Shipping Reform Act would:
- Prohibit ocean carriers from declining opportunities for U.S. exports unreasonably, as determined by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) in new required rulemaking.
- Establish reciprocal trade to promote U.S. exports as part of the FMC’s mission.
- Require ocean carriers to adhere to minimum service standards that meet the public interest, reflecting best practices in the global shipping industry
- Require ocean carriers or marine terminal operators to certify that any late fees —known in maritime parlance as “detention and demurrage” charges—comply with federal regulations or face penalties.
- Shift burden of proof regarding the reasonableness of “detention or demurrage” charges from the invoiced party to the ocean carrier or marine terminal operator.
- Require ocean common carriers to report to the FMC each calendar quarter on total import/export tonnage and twenty-foot equivalent units (loaded/empty) per vessel that makes port in the United States.
- Authorizes the FMC to self-initiate investigations of ocean common carrier’s business practices and apply enforcement measures, as appropriate.
More information on the bipartisan measure can be found here.
Rep. Axne recently highlighted the Ocean Shipping Reform Act at a House Agriculture Committee hearing on supply chain concerns with industry experts.
The bill has the support of the American Farm Bureau Association, National Retail Federation, American Trucking Associations, Corn Refiners Association, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Pork Producers Council, U.S. Dry Bean Council, U.S. Meat Export Federation, and the United Fresh Produce Association.
Last week, Rep. Axne led a call of 22 House Democrats for additional legislative action on legislation that would ease supply chain bottlenecks and help lower costs for their constituents.