U.S. Officials Look to Pop-Up Container Yards to Ease Congestion, Boost Agriculture Exports
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is on a mission to facilitate agriculture exports this year.
Its latest move is a partnership with the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) for a 49-acre pop-up container site in Seattle, where farmers and their logistics providers can drop off their exports.
This should result in quicker pick-ups of empty boxes, ready access to available equipment and fewer congestion issues for truckers.
As part of the plan, the US Farm Service Agency will make payments to agricultural companies and co-operatives that place shipments at the pop-up site, doling out $200 per dry container and $400 for a reefer box.
The scheme has two objectives: to alleviate congestion problems; and to secure containers for agriculture shippers, as over the past year, availability of containers for exports and congestion and demurrage charges have been massive headaches for this sector.
“Congestion-induced impacts to vessel schedules and prioritisation of returning containers empty to Asia have significantly raised the barriers for exporting agricultural products in containers, resulting in lost markets and disappointed customers,” said the USDA.
The NWSA reported a drop of nearly 30% in exports of agricultural commodities in the second half of last year, while the ratio of loaded versus empty containers leaving the port complex has shifted to predominantly empty boxes since last May.
Craig Grossgart, SVP global ocean at Seko Logistics, finds the pop-up box yard concept useful. He said: “The two biggest issues the west coast ports have is container yard space and labour productivity.
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