- The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) partnered with the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) to build a 49-acre pop-up container site in Seattle.
- The USDA’s agreement with the NWSA follows a similar arrangement with the Port of Oakland and the Port of Savannah to take the pressure off these ports’ container facilities.
- The USDA continues to look for opportunities “to join hands” with more ports or intermodal container facilities to support US farmers and agricultural producers in getting their goods to the market.
Potential constructions amid supply chain disruptions
As part of the plan, the US Farm Service Agency will make payments to agricultural companies and co-operatives that place shipments at the pop-up site, with $200 per dry container and $400 for a reefer box. This should result in quicker pick-ups of empty boxes, easier access to available equipment, and fewer congestion issues for truckers.
The scheme has two objectives: to alleviate congestion problems; and to secure containers for agriculture shippers. In the context of supply chain disruptions occurring continuously over the past year, the collaboration of USDA and NWSA is expected to significantly improve this situation.
“Congestion-induced impacts to vessel schedules and prioritization of returning containers empty to Asia have significantly raised the barriers for exporting agricultural products in containers, resulting in lost markets and disappointed customers,” said the USDA.
The USDA’s agreement with the NWSA follows a similar arrangement with the Port of Oakland at the end of January 2022 to set up a 25-acre site for containerized agriculture exports. US Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg said at the time: “This 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. 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.”
He was referring to an initiative driven by the Department of Transportation last autumn in the Port of Savannah, Georgia, where the US government has funneled $8m of federal funds into the creation of pop-up container storage yards to take the pressure off the port’s container facilities.
The path to expand the model
The USDA says it continues to look for opportunities “to join hands” with more ports or intermodal container facilities to support US farmers and agricultural producers in getting their goods to market. According to some sources, there have been talks about a container facility at the Port of Los Angeles, but these were stymied by disagreements between operators and employees.