Port of Oakland launches effort to expedite agricultural exports

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Officials with the Port of Oakland announced Monday that they were ready to launch an interagency effort to improve the flow of agricultural exports at the Port.

The new program involves the use of more yard space and equipment, restored export ship calls, and assistance to export users. The goal, officials said, is to provide agricultural exporters with some relief after facing shortages of export capacity and skyrocketing logistics costs.

“We need the shipping companies to immediately restore the export lines from Oakland to Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent,” said Bryan Brandes, Port of Oakland Maritime Director.

The Port will open and operate a 25-acre off-terminal, paved container yard equipped to move containers off chassis and store them for rapid pick-up. The yard, officials said, would provide quicker access to equipment and faster truck turns without forcing exporters to have to wait for in-terminal space. Federal and state agriculture agencies will help agricultural exporters to use the yard.

The Port of Oakland is the preferred export gateway for much of California’s agricultural exporters and refrigerated proteins. The cargo volume at the Port is approximately 50 percent exports and 50 percent imports under normal circumstances. Still, the current import surge clogging the ports is displacing ships and containers available to exporters. The Port reported significant drops in export volume due to skipped sailings of crucial export lines and lack of export cargo equipment.

In 2021, State and Port officials convened a meeting with farm producers and transportation executives to solve the shipping crisis. Participants included seaport stakeholders within the agricultural sector, freight forwarders, trucking, and warehouse operators. The meeting resulted in a list of possible solutions to unclogging the supply chain for agriculture exports.

“In the meantime, the Port–along with our federal and state partners–is ready to do everything we can to help provide room and relief to help our agricultural customers,” said Danny Wan, the Port Executive Director.