Oregon agriculture and forest products groups have written a letter urging the state’s congressional delegation to help bring an end to a long-running labor dispute affecting 29 West Coast ports, including the Port of Portland.
“This slowdown and possible lockout has a significant economic impact to not only the nursery industry in particular, but the agricultural sector as a whole,” OAN President Mike Coleman said.
“Congress and the president must work together to resolve this dispute,” OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone said. “It has gone on long enough and it is not helping anyone — not workers, not shipping companies, not farmers or producers, and certainly not the Oregon economy.”
Fallout from the dispute recently prompted Hanjin Shipping Co. to announce its departure from the Port of Portland. The company is Portland’s largest container shipper, responsible for 1,600 containers a week, which is the vast majority of the port’s traffic.
“It is important that you recognize that there is nothing that we produce in Oregon in agriculture and forest products that cannot be sourced from somewhere else,” the letter to the Oregon delegation states. “We can grow and process the best in the world, but if we cannot deliver our Oregon products affordably and dependably, the foreign customers will go somewhere else and may never return.”
The letter has more than 350 signatories, including trade associations, businesses and 20 Oregon nurseries.