Container-clogged west coast ports are continuing to roll out new plans to clear their backlogs, as the Port of Oakland today said it will launch an interagency effort to improve the flow of agricultural exports by opening a 25-acre, off-terminal, container yard.
The news follows a December 30 move by the Port of Los Angeles to begin charging a fee to ocean carriers that allow empty containers to linger on the Port’s marine terminals for nine days or longer. The fee would take effect on January 30, if approved at a January 13 meeting of the Los Angeles Harbor Commission.
At the Port of Oakland, the new program accelerating agricultural exports will involve 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.
To do so, the port says it plans to open and operate a 25-acre off-terminal, paved 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.
The initiative follows a “year-old shipping crisis” that has been triggered by an import surge clogging up the ports, displacing ships and containers that are available to exporters, especially shipments of farm goods, port leaders said. Under that pressure, the port has seen “significant drops in export volume” due to skipped sailings of crucial export lines and lack of equipment for export cargo.
“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 said in a release.
“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 of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan said.
Following the opening of this 25-acre yard, the port also plans to work with Biden Administration Port Envoy John Porcari to explore long-term solutions, including: