The USDA announced today that it will partner with the Port of Oakland to create a 25-acre “pop-up site,” allowing agricultural companies more space to fill their shipping containers and get products moving.
A main factor in the supply chain crunch has been the backlogged Port of Los Angeles, which earlier this month struggled to clear a backlog of about 100 ships anchored off the coast. That backlog means it’s taking longer to unload containers, fill up trucks and deliver supplies across the nation.
In an effort to ease that backlog, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this morning that the USDA will create the pop-up site at the Port of Oakland, about 400 miles north of the Los Angeles Port. Just a few months ago, the Oakland port sat empty, waiting for vessels to arrive. As fewer containers have been available for export, many carriers suspended service to Oakland. Now, the USDA urges ships to reroute to Oakland in order to unload faster.
“COVID-19 revealed vulnerabilities across our supply system, both at our ports and in the agricultural sector,” said Vilsack, who went on to say that the USDA will work with “state, local and private partners to mitigate complex port capacity and congestion issues and to keep American agriculture on the move.”
The USDA has set up these kinds of pop-ups before. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg noted that they were previously effective in Georgia. “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. We look forward to engaging with other ports on similar solutions to congestion,” Buttigieg says.
The USDA will cover 60 percent of the startup cost of the site, as well as movement costs at $125 per container. The space will be available in early March. Agricultural companies will have access to the containers currently sitting empty, which they can fill with their products and produce in an effort to revive shipping congestion. The site will also have space to pre-cool refrigerated containers of perishable goods.