Hoeven Outlines Efforts to Address Shipping Backlogs, Ensure Ag Producers Can Access Foreign Markets

Senator Introduces Administrator of ND Wheat Commission at Senate Committee Hearing

WASHINGTON – At a Senate committee hearing that he co-chaired this week, Senator John Hoeven outlined the importance of free and fair trade for U.S. agriculture producers and discussed efforts to ensure farmers and ranchers can access foreign markets. In particular, the senator stressed the impact that transportation backlogs and supply chain issues are having on producers’ ability to export their goods. Accordingly, Hoeven is:

  • Sponsoring the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, bipartisan legislation that will update federal regulations for the global shipping industry and help American producers export their products internationally.
    • As one of the four lead sponsors of the bipartisan legislation, Hoeven, along with Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), advanced the bill through the Senate in March.
  • Working to ensure reliable rail service for agriculture producers, among other industries. This includes:
    • Along with Senator Kevin Cramer, pressing the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to address prolonged rail service disruptions. The STB recently required Class I railroads to provide biweekly reports on their progress toward increasing service.

Hoeven was joined at the hearing by Neal Fisher, Administrator of the North Dakota Wheat Commission. The senator invited Fisher to provide the committee with expert testimony on the benefit of trade to U.S. agriculture producers and to discuss solutions for the ongoing disruption in transportation services.

“Ag exports provide tremendous value to our producers, with North Dakota exporting approximately $4.3 billion of agriculture products last year. Further, the U.S. agriculture industry has maintained a positive balance of trade for the last two decades,” said Hoeven. “In order to support their continued success, we need to address the transportation backlogs impacting our farmers and ranchers. That’s exactly what we’re working to do through our efforts with the STB as well as my Ocean Shipping Reform Act. I appreciate Neal’s willingness to discuss these important issues with my fellow committee members, as his extensive background in securing market access for our producers brings important insights to our efforts.”  

Ocean Shipping Reform Act

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act helps address supply chain challenges by prohibiting ocean carriers from unreasonably declining shipping opportunities for U.S. exports, making it harder for ocean carriers to arbitrarily turn away goods at ports that are ready to be shipped abroad. Further, the bill would give the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), the federal agency responsible for the regulation of ocean-borne transportation, greater authority to regulate harmful practices by carriers.