Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced plans to increase capacity at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, Calif., to improve service for shippers of U.S.-grown agricultural commodities. The USDA is partnering with the Port of Oakland to set up a new 25-acre “pop-up” site to make it easier for agricultural companies to fill empty shipping containers with commodities. Fewer containers have been made available for U.S. agricultural commodities, as ocean carriers have circumvented traditional marketing channels and rushed containers back to be exported empty, and as a result, many of these carriers have suspended service to the Port of Oakland.
“This creative partnership with USDA and the Port of Oakland will help American farmers and agricultural producers move their product to market while also making better use of empty containers that are causing congestion at the ports,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “After we helped set up inland pop-up ports at the Port of Savannah, we witnessed significant improvements in the flow of goods, and we expect to see similarly positive results once this Oakland facility is open. We look forward to engaging with other ports on similar solutions to congestion.”
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The site will provide space to prepare empty containers beginning in early March. Agricultural companies and cooperatives will have easier access to these containers, which they will fill with commodities, restoring shipping services to agricultural products while relieving congestion. The new site also will also have a dedicated gate with the ability to pre-cool refrigerated shipping containers to receive perishable commodities.
Using Commodity Credit Corporation funds set aside to address market disruptions in September 2021, USDA will cover 60% of the start-up costs, which reflects the historical share of agricultural products that are marketed through the Port of Oakland. USDA will also help cover additional movement logistics costs at $125 per container.