WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives passed the final version of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act on June 13.

The House passed the measure 369-42 and will move it to the desk of President Joe Biden.

“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,” Biden said in a White House statement.

The latest form of the bill came from the Senate in February, which was headed by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). The legislation was designed to give the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) greater rulemaking authority to regulate harmful practices by carriers. 

The bill would also authorize the FMC to initiate investigations of common ocean carriers’ business practices and apply enforcement measures, as appropriate.

Following the passage in the House, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) announced its support for the bill and how it can address global supply chain issues affecting US companies. 

“The problems at our ports include delays of shipments of American-made goods to overseas trading partners due to the unreasonable practices of foreign-owned ocean carriers,” said Julie Anna Potts, president and chief executive officer of the NAMI. “These delays are a huge cost to meat and poultry companies as their perishable products await transport.”

NAMI added that carriers decline or cancel export cargo bookings while frequent ship delays and cancellations are happening with little or no notice to exporters. The delays can be weeks or even months. 

“The resulting inability of shippers to deliver their products on schedule affects the reliability of American exports and decreases export values and market share,” the trade association added.

The US Meat Export Federation also shared its approval of the bipartisan effort on the legislation. 

“In these times of rising input costs, it has never been more important to maximize the value of our agricultural products, and the best way to do that is to ensure access to the international marketplace,” said Dan Halstrom, president and CEO of the US Meat Export Federation. “This legislation takes important steps forward in improving the shipping services available to US exporters.” 

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998 was the last time Congress passed legislation that included the Federal Maritime Commission’s authority to regulate the global ocean shipping industry.