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USA: California growers facing export troubles

United States
Nov 4, 2021
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By Emily Hamann Higher prices and empty shelves have been one of the hallmarks of the shipping crisis, as a historic number of cargo ships wait off the coast of Southern California to bring goods to port and offload them. But the congestion has rippled through the goods movement chain and has also slowed California growers trying to get their products out of the country.
“The biggest frustration for so many of our guys has been there’s no certainty,” said Tracey Chow, federal government affairs specialist with the Western Growers Association, an Irvine-based advocacy group for fresh fruit, nut and vegetable growers in the Western U.S. She said her members began running into shipping issues more than a year ago. While most of California’s goods move through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, agriculture exports mostly leave through the Port of Oakland. Usually, ships crossing the Pacific Ocean first dock at L.A. or Long Beach, then make their way up the coast and stop at Oakland. But as Southern California ports got more and more congested and ships were delayed for weeks waiting to unload, some ships tried to make up time by skipping the trip up the West Coast, instead turning around in Southern California, and heading back to Asia loaded with empty shipping containers. “They were essentially canceling sailings into Oakland altogether,” Chow ...
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