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Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, and Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, have introduced the “American Port Access Privileges Act” — a bill that would prioritize U.S. exporters, putting them at the front of the line at ports to support the domestic economy.

The legislation, HR 8243, builds upon the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022, signed into law by President Joe Biden on June 16. It is endorsed by the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, National Milk Producers Federation, and California Farm Bureau Federation.

Garamendi, who is a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, cited longstanding trade imbalances with other countries as a motive for restoring fairness at our ports.

“Cargo ships looking to offload foreign-made products and profit off West Coast ports must provide opportunities for American exports in return,” he said.

The bill establishes new berthing preferences for commercial vessels that move American exporters to the front of unloading and loading queues. The two congressmen kept the needs of California agriculture in mind, authoring the bill to incentivize ocean carriers to make voyages to ports such as the Port of Oakland, a critical location for the state’s exporters.

“Supply chain disruptions are hurting California farmers and exporters like never before,” Costa said. He said it is important to mitigate congestion at our ports to carry out American exports, like the food grown in San Joaquin Valley.

“I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Congressman Garamendi to boost American exports and to help our Valley’s agricultural economy recover,” Costa said.