Federal incentives are now available for Port of Oakland exporters, to use pop-up container yard

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The Port of Oakland recently announced that its new temporary container yard is receiving federal help through financial relief for customers, with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) providing agricultural and other exporters assistance in covering expenses for using the pop-up yard.

Port officials said that the temporary container yard was initially opened on March 7, and it is a component of the White House’s efforts to relieve port congestion. Through this specific initiative, USDA is offering a $400 incentive per export reefer (refrigerated container) and $200 for a “dry” container (non-reefer). They added that this funding is for the temporary staging of loaded export containers, and USDA is offering a $125 incentive to pick up an empty dry container used for agricultural bookings. 

“Supply chain issues locally to globally have hampered the US export business through West Coast ports including Oakland,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan, in a statement. “We thank the USDA for providing financial incentives to our customers. This will promote use of the yard, reduce marine terminal congestion and ease some of the logistics strain for our exporters.” 

In a recent interview with LM, Wan said that while there has been a pickup in import activity, at the Port of Oakland, exports continue to lag.

And he explained that one of the unique things about the Port of Oakland is its 50% import/50% export [ratio] in normal times, noting that the reason export activity is so prolific through the port is that it is in close proximity to Central Valley agriculture products, with most of the protein exports going through the port, as well as being the second port of call.

“That makes it easier for exporters to come here and ship directly to Asia without having to make any more stops,” he said. “What is going on now, the big issue we are dealing with is even though our imports have been hitting higher numbers, our exports are so much lower that our total volume has actually dropped. And the bigger problem is that our export customers are basically being squeezed out by imports and the congestion and space is being taken up by imports and the empties are not necessarily going here to pick up exports—they are going back to Asia to pick up exports. That is a big issue and that is why the USDA announcement will help exporters.”

What’s more, he noted that exporters are not having ships come to Oakland to pick up their cargo, which is the biggest problem. The second problem, he noted, is even though ships are stopping to pick up, the space in the terminals is being taken up by imports and they cannot even get access to the empties, due to both the congestion and the inability to get into the terminals and to also get it on time

“For example, in January one of the shipping lines gave our exporters a four-hour window to drop stuff off and put it on a ship which is practically impossible,” he said. “The access/quick turnaround issue at the port is one of the things driving the exporters’ inability to export. So, we are going to set up a pop-up yard with equipment both to move the boxes quickly and also to stack them and stack empties at the yard and also provide reefer plugs for those refrigerated containers to be prepped before they are used. This will help to take the empties out of the terminal and decongest the terminals themselves and to provide an easy and convenient place for exports and empties both refrigerated and non-refrigerated.”

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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