Senator Thune explains the Importance of The Ocean Shipping Reform Act

It’s already been a busy week on the Hill, with lawmakers taking closer looks at farm policy and market reforms.

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act has been introduced in the Senate by Senators John Thune and Amy Klobuchar and has already earned 14 co-sponsors.

Senator Thune says their bill looks to address several shipping concerns.

“Agricultural commodities, sometimes they’ll send empty containers back rather than taking a container full of soybeans or something to an export market. And so, we want to make sure that the practices that are employed there are fair, and we give more authority to the Federal Maritime Commission, which is the enforcement agency to determine if there are unfair practices being employed. And to look at these issues of detention and demurrage which are penalties that are assessed on shippers by carriers oftentimes. What it’s not the shippers fault.”

The companion legislation has already passed on the house side with slightly different language on reciprocity for shippers.

“The lead sponsor in the house is my colleague from South Dakota Dusty Johnson. So, we’ll figure it out and hopefully get a bill that eventually can get signed into law because one thing we need to do is address the supply chain crisis that we have in this country. And obviously it starts at the ports with containers and then everything once we get inland.”

Senator Thune has also been vocal about reforming the cattle market and holding the big four packers accountable.

“The JBS Settlement I think suggests that there’s all there’s an acknowledgment or admission there, at least with one packer the big four, that they haven’t done things necessarily the right way. And I think the producers have a very valid argument. They have seen flat returns for them, higher prices at the supermarket, the grocery store for consumers, and a widening disparity and a lot of that flowing to the to the packers.”

Packing giant JBS sent shockwaves through the industry last week, when it announced a $50 million settlement in a price fixing lawsuit, brought on by beef buyers. Ag leaders immediately urged the Department of Justice for an update on its investigation Senator Thune says the settlement requires an explanation.

“If the Justice Department comes back and says they’re in violation of any trust laws, obviously, those are they can take action there. And if they come back and say these are the things that congress needs to fix, that obviously gives us some direction to so a couple things going on out there. But we’re working in and going to continue to keep the pressure on.”

Senator Thune has also introduced the American Beef Labeling Act to reinstate mandatory county of origin labeling, which he says would also help support the cattle markets right now.

Last week, Senator Thune signed onto 2 letters to the EPA, one calling for a pause on a new Waters of the United States Rule until after the Supreme Court rules on the Sackett Case and another calling on the agency to uphold blending volumes in the renewable fuels standard.


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