MILBANK, S.D., (KELO) — A bill aimed at tackling supply chain and shipping problems is one step closer to the president’s desk.
Valley Queen Cheese exports lactose to New Zealand, but this year the Milbank cheese manufacturer is running into problems.
“We’re trying to store 2.5 million pounds of product that is sold, but we can’t ship,” Valley Queen Cheese VP of sales and milk procurement Jason Mischel said.
Vice president of sales and milk procurement Jason Mischel says that’s because the business is having trouble getting shipping containers.
“So, the effect for agriculture in South Dakota is that many of the containers that come over from Asia are leaving our shores empty, so we’re seeing container ships going back to China full of empty containers while U.S. agricultural exports sit at the ports,” Mischel said.
Mischel says it comes down to economics.
“The steamship lines can charge so much money to haul goods from Asia to the U.S., they don’t want to wait for those containers to get into the Midwest, get filled, and get back on a ship to go back to Asia or New Zealand where we need it to go,” Mischel said.
A bill co-sponsored by South Dakota’s U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson aims to alleviate issues like this one.
“Right now, the large ocean carriers, they’re not under any particular obligation to treat American companies or American agricultural producers fairly. The Ocean Shipping Reform Act, my bill, would make sure they have some basic rules of the road that they have to meet if they are going to use American ports,” Rep. Dusty Johnson said.
The Ocean Shipping Reform Act passed the U.S. House Wednesday.
“We think long-term that’s going to have some very beneficial effects for the export industry. It really is an attempt to force the steamship lines to export U.S. products when there are U.S. products to be exported,” Mischel said.
Mischel says short term solutions are needed as well.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Efforts are also underway in the Senate to alleviate shipping problems.