What You Should Know About the Ocean Shipping Reform Act

The USDA reported record-high agricultural exports in 2021. Corn, beef, grains, and a variety of other goods broke previous records despite pandemic-related supply chain issues. While that’s good news for farmers, there’s more to the story.

Zippy Duval, President of the American Farm Bureau, tweeted last month that American farmers “lost up to $4 billion in ag exports because of record shipping costs, harmful surcharges & lack of access to export containers.”

Industry experts are urging Congress to pass the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022, aka OSRA, a bi-partisan effort to resolve these issues and give farmers access to needed supplies affected by shipping bottlenecks. OSRA is also expected to help American farmers by:

  • Expanding the authority of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to take action against common ocean carriers, including investigating complaints and requiring refunds for incorrectly assessed late fees or other unreasonable charges.
  • Preventing ocean carriers from refusing ready-to-export goods and returning overseas with empty containers. Instead, it would only be lawful to decline shipments if they failed to meet FMC requirements.
  • Supporting farmers’ ability to effectively compete by ensuring they pay fair rates to bring their goods to the marketplace without unnecessary delays. The law also aims to put responsibility for justifying charges on the shoulders of the ocean carrier.
  • Requiring common ocean carriers to be more transparent by submitting quarterly US imports/exports reports to the FMC.
  • As of March 31, 2022, OSRA passed the United States Senate and is pending return to the House of Representatives. If it successfully passes the House, it will then head to the President of the United States for signature before it can become law.

Track the progression of OSRA and other proposed laws affecting the agricultural industry by creating an account at Congress.gov and signing up for legislative alerts. You can also give feedback on this bill by contacting your state Representative or Senator.

Lincoln Savings Bank’s ag lending professionals follow industry news to ensure funding options are tailored to your agricultural and farming needs. Speak with an Ag Lender at 800-588-7551 or visit MyLSB.com/ag to explore financial resources for your agribusiness.