Farmers and the nation won a temporary reprieve as East Coast and Gulf Coast longshoremen extended their contract for 30 days, averting a possible crippling ports strike. The extension Friday came after a breakthrough between the union and port operators and shipping lines on container royalties paid to dockworkers. A major strike would have idled more than 14-thousand workers at ports from Boston and New York to New Orleans and Houston. Some estimates say it could have cost the U.S. $1 billion a day in lost commerce.
“Even short strikes have an impact. Things start to backup if grain is prevented from moving out. It’s really not anything different than an export embargo that’s sort of imposed on ourselves.”
That’s Washington Farm Trade Lobbyist and former USDA Trade Adviser Paul Drazek who says other options are unrealistic.
“To get it to a different port you’re talking about moving it to the west coast and the cost involved has to be exorbitant.”
Cost is also what makes air shipment of goods like corn and soybeans prohibitive. Drazek says the last thing agriculture needs is an interruption of port services.
“Exports are so important to so much of American agriculture that when you have something like this the compound effect of a potential strike, the difficulty in moving product on the rivers because of low water levels, it’s just crazy. It’s tragic what could happen.”
Drazek points out that so much of what farmers produce is exported and prices farmers receive depend so much on exports.[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2013/01/Longshoremen-reprieve.mp3|titles=Longshoremen reprieve]