Thursday, February 12, 2015

LaMalfa, others call for end to ports slowdown

The north state's Rep. Doug LaMalfa was among more than a dozen federal lawmakers today who called for an end to the slowdown at West Coast ports that is putting many agricultural commodities at financial risk.

From LaMalfa:
Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) today attended a bipartisan press conference urging a swift resolution to the slowdown occurring at the West Coast Port due to ongoing negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshoreman Warehouse Union (ILWU).

“The slowing down of these ports impacts our entire country—it is a bipartisan, multi-regional issue,” LaMalfa stated. “We have to battle to get market share. When we lose market share, it is really difficult to get it back in a global economy especially with agricultural prices being so competitive. As you have heard from my colleagues today, the impact stretches beyond the west coast, and across our nation. The lack of conclusive negotiations hurts not only the agricultural community, it hurts all our neighbors down the street. Ask yourselves: Do you really want the President and Congress to have to get involved? No. Now is the time to resolve this disagreement.”

At a hearing before the House Committee on Agriculture earlier this week, LaMalfa discussed the labor dispute with Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, highlighting the devastating impacts it is having on rural economies across the nation and urged the Secretary to encourage both parties to find a quick resolution to the ongoing negotiations.

Video of LaMalfa speaking at the press conference may be found here.
Rep. David Valadao, a Hanford dairyman, said this:
“Agriculture is the backbone of our community and the ability to import and export our goods is critical to both our local and national economies. As time passes without a resolution, our farmers, businesses, and manufacturers will continue to face increased production costs and lost sales while massive quantities of produce and goods go to waste. Employees have been laid off, and thousands of more jobs remain at risk. The ongoing drought has already had catastrophic consequences on our communities. The last thing the Valley needs is another obstacle preventing our farmers and ranchers from doing what they do best and limiting the economic success of our communities.”
As Valadao's office points out:
California’s Central Valley is one of the world’s most product agricultural regions. The Central Valley produces over 230 different types of crops and accounts for 6.1 billion in agriculture sales. However, these agriculture industries rely on the efficient movement of goods as well as stable access to international markets, both of which have been impacted by ongoing negotiations between the International Longshoreman Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state said this:
“For months, the livelihoods of thousands of men and women across the West Coast have been at risk. Exports and imports are at a near standstill. Drivers are losing work. Growers can’t ship their products to loyal customers in a timely fashion and are in jeopardy of losing their long time markets. And businesses are suffering. Because for months, negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshoreman Warehouse Union have jeopardized jobs and threatened our economy. And last weekend’s shutdown of nearly 30 West Coast ports is unacceptable, and this continued slowdown is unacceptable. Together, we urge for a swift resolution.

“This is not about politics – it’s about protecting family farmers, small businesses, manufacturers, and America’s economy. A lockout of West Coast ports would cost us over two billion dollars per day – and that is just the beginning. Washington is the most trade dependent state in the country – and if this dispute does not resolve quickly, our state will suffer the consequences. We need to come together and focus our efforts on an Opportunity Economy. An economy that prioritizes people. An economy that fosters an environment replete with trade possibilities. And an economy the supports access to these important markets.

“I join my colleagues – from both sides of the aisle – in urging an expedited agreement on behalf of people in Eastern Washington and people all across this country. I applaud the leadership of Congressman Reichert and Congressman Schrader on this important issue. I also want to recognize my colleague from Washington – newly elected Congressman Dan Newhouse – for his leadership at the state level, as well as newly elected Representative Rod Blum for his leadership. I know that they will be tremendous assets at the federal level as well – and I know that together we will continue to work to protect the livelihoods of countless Americans.”
Watch for our continuing coverage of the shipping crisis at CapitalPress.com.

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