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Congress Passes Increased Regulation of Shipping Industry to Help Farmers, Fight Inflation

Congressman Dusty Johnson and President Joe Biden are celebrating the House’s 369–42 approval of the Senate’s version of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, an effort to address one of the fundamental causes of inflation, the shortage of shipping containers driven by pandemic disruption and corporate gouging. President Biden says yay for helping farmers and ranchers get more space on overseas shipping, and yay for Dusty and Senator John Thune doing what the President told them to and helping Democrats pass this useful socialist intervention in the predatory and irresponsible capitalist marketplace:

Lowering prices for Americans is my top priority, and I applaud the Congress for passing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act on a bipartisan basis, which will help lower costs for American retailers, farmers and consumers. I want to thank Senator Klobuchar, Senator Thune, Rep. Garamendi, and Rep. Dusty Johnson for their leadership and helping drive forward this important legislation.

In my State of the Union address, I called on Congress to address ocean carriers’ high prices and unfair practices because rising ocean shipping costs are a major contributing factor to increased costs for American families. During the pandemic, ocean carriers increased their prices by as much as 1,000%. And, too often, these ocean carriers are refusing to take American exports back to Asia, leaving with empty containers instead. That’s costing farmers and ranchers—and our economy—a lot of money.

This bill will make progress reducing costs for families and ensuring fair treatment for American businesses—including farmers and ranchers. I look forward to signing it into law [President Joe Biden, statement on Congressional passage of Ocean Shipping Reform Act, 2022.06.13].

All the nays on this bill came from Dusty’s fellow Republicans, the usual radicals (Boebert, Brooks, Cawthorn, Gaetz…) who care less about protecting farmers and fighting inflation than about scoring alt-right points. Congressman Johnson ignores his caucus-mates obstreperism, but he also fails to give Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar top billing as prime sponsor, even as he and Tall John tout bipartisanship:

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) today issued the following statements after the U.S. House of Representatives passed their Ocean Shipping Reform Act (S. 3580). The bipartisan, bicameral legislation, which unanimously passed the U.S. Senate in March, would strengthen the authority of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) by providing it with new tools to help level the playing field for American exporters and counteract anticompetitive behavior. The bill would also help FMC more efficiently resolve disputes between ocean carriers and shippers, while also taking actions at the U.S. Department of Transportation to alleviate strain across the supply chain. Their bill now heads to the president’s desk, where it’s expected to be signed into law [Congressman Dusty Johnson, press release: “Thune-Johnson Ocean Shipping Reform Act Heads to President’s Desk”, 2022.06.13].

Dusty at least mentions his main House partner in pushing the OSRA, California Congressman John Garamendi, in his praise for and summary of this impending law:

“Foreign flagged ocean carriers are playing games with American agriculture exports and our bill puts an end to it,” said Johnson. “The Ocean Shipping Reform Act is the strongest fix to our maritime laws in a generation. Americans are facing record inflation, our bill isn’t a silver bullet, but help is on the way. I am proud to have worked on this issue for the last year with Congressman Garamendi, and I am grateful that the House and Senate came to an agreement on these important reforms to our nation’s shipping laws.”

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act will:

  • Prohibit ocean carriers from unreasonably refusing cargo space accommodations for U.S. exports and from discriminating against U.S. exporters;
  • Promote transparency by requiring ocean common carriers to report to the FMC each calendar quarter on total import/export tonnage and twenty-foot equivalent units (loaded/empty) per vessel that makes port in the United States;
  • Authorize the FMC to self-initiate investigations of ocean common carrier’s business practices and apply enforcement measures, as appropriate; and
  • Establish new authority for the FMC to register shipping exchanges to improve the negotiation of service contracts [Johnson, 2022.06.13].

Limiting ocean haulers’ business decisions, increased reporting requirements, more government regulation—yup! That’s the socialism Dusty, John, and all sensible policymakers recognize is necessary to rein in predatory capitalism and make the global economy work better for South Dakota farmers and everyone else who likes to buy and sell things. Good work, comrades!

3 Comments

  1. John 2022-06-16

    The Ocean Shipping Reform Act will have a very minor impact on inflation. Corporations double and triple ordered during COVID, and now are stuck with excess inventories. Expect the retail “sales” to mount, along with corporate retail loses.
    The single biggest impact on US inflation is wage inflation. Wage inflation was suppressed for generations. There were too many baby boomers. The boomers and their spouses were in the work force which further depressed wages. This year the boomer generation hits peak retirement. Boomers were the largest US generation. Now corporations compete for workers, finally driving up wages. The only way to beat wage inflation is to massively increase immigration. Increasing immigration is a red-state dog whistle – so increasing immigration will not occur. (Of course, theoretically the nation could reproduce more workers, but won’t. Besides the nation cannot retroactively reproduce the 20-something workers it needs today.)

    Fuel and food inflation will also continue.

    Peter Zeihan’s analysis thinks that inflation will continue for about 5 years, regardless of who’s in the White House and what they do. The inflation is structurally built into the US and global demographics and the world set against Russia. (Perhaps the only relief may be a far larger US/NATO/EU military operation to beat the Russians in Ukraine this year, that includes opening the Black Sea lines of communication.) The harvest data this September/October will begin to reveal the scope, breadth, and extent of the coming world famine.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aK5kQ3mZddg

  2. Arlo Blundt 2022-06-16

    Over the years, I’ve had the occasion, for work and pleasure to hang out around the port of Duluth-Superior at the “bottom” of Lake Superior. It is the largest port on the great lakes shipping wheat, iron ore (taconite), limestone (for steel mills), coal (from Wyoming, Detroit Edison has a large facility) cement, wood products, barley, corn (used to ship soy beans, but now almost all soy beans are exported through Tacoma and New Orleans for Asia), and occasionally some industrial products made locally. Most trade goes out in 1000 foot ore boats bound for the steel mills in East Chicago, Gary, and Cleveland. Some trade is international, mainly grain shipped by Canadian and American steamship companies. But…this time of year, the “tramp traders” start showing up from Europe and North Africa.

    They are mostly independently owned, sorta like an independent owner operator of a truck. They are mostly total rust buckets, streaks of rust, peeling paint, and look to be 50 years old and it must take some kind of seamanship to get them across the Atlantic. They come to load wheat and barley mostly. While they are registered mostly in Liberia and Libya, they originate in Poland, (some Polish ships are relatively new, they must build ships in Poland), Slovenia, Greece, Turkey, Libya and Italy. The grain is bound for European markets for pasta and coos coos. Often the barley and wheat heads for Lebanon where its traded throughout the Arab world. Most grain loaded on ships owned by established shipping companies goes to the Netherlands to be traded through an international market there. . The tramp crews run up their national flag as they enter the harbor and wave to everyone..they are tickled pink to be in an American port..far into the interior of America.

    I think most arrive in Duluth-Superior empty. I’m told they bring over whatever they can haul and sell..clothing, ag products like olive oil, cheap electronics, car parts, whatever has a market, and off load this cargo at other American and Canadian ports. They anchor in the port for two or three days waiting in line at the elevators to load their cargo. Dutch ships (which are state of the art) unload huge wind generators, blades, towers and other equipment.Haven’t noticed any this year. The tramp traders, fully loaded to the gunnals and low in the water limp out of port on their thousands of miles journey. It gives one an appreciation of what entails international trade.

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