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News 731 views last update:Feb 25, 2016

Dispute must be resolved to protect US exports

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and 92 other food, agricultural and allied industry groups have urged the parties involved in a labour dispute that’s affecting food exports that ship out of West Coast ports to resolve their differences as soon as possible.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and 92 other food, agricultural and allied industry groups have  urged the parties involved in a labour dispute that's affecting food exports that ship out of West Coast ports to resolve their differences as soon as possible.

Slowdowns by dock workers at the ports in Long Beach, Los Angeles and Oakland, Calif., and in Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., have stranded thousands of containers of pork and other farm products over the past several months.

Since November, pork prices, for example, have tumbled by 20% in large part because of the port problem, and meat and other perishable products awaiting shipment soon may need to be destroyed or discounted and sold on the domestic market. One estimate has the US meat and poultry industries losing more than US$30 million a week.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) have been unable to hammer out a new contract since the last one expired in July. Although the ILWU initially agreed to continue sending workers to the ports during the contract negotiations, in November it reneged on that agreement.

In an open letter to the White House, congressional lawmakers, the PMA and the ILWU, NPPC and the other organisations pointed out that the increase in food and agriculture products exported has been very beneficial to the companies that own West Coast ports and to the dock workers.

Read the letter here.

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