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US farmers unhappy mega alliances do little to fix problems

US AGRICULTURAL exporters have expressed dissatisfaction that mega shipping alliances do little to end service reductions or reduce their costs, reports the American Journal of Transportation.

Speaking at the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AGTC) Annual Meeting in California, farmers said they were worried that new ocean carrier alliances may be hurting service and costing shipper's money.

Panellists included Elena Asher, Dairy Farmers of America (powdered milk and cheese); Justin Cauley, CHS (grain and soybean); Blanca Palomino, Carriere Family Farms (walnuts); Greg Jackson, Border Valley Trading (hay/forage) and Allison Baker, JBS (beef, pork, poultry and hides).

Panellists said consistency of ocean carrier service remains a problem and some blamed the consolidation of carriers into larger vessel alliances.

They complained that definitions of "free time" allowances before demurrage charges are assessed by ocean carriers and fluctuates from port to port. 

Some said export containers arrive at final Asian destinations late, because the ocean carrier was late and missed the sailing time of the Asian transloading vessel transporting the container to its final destination. 

Others said carrier alliances undermined carrier accountability, adding confusion when an exporter books a container with one carrier, but discovers the container sailed on another carrier's vessel belonging to the same carrier alliance, resulting in late deliveries. 

Some complained of a lack of container availability. Import containers pay a higher freight rate and so ocean carriers are more apt to provide containers to importers than to exporters who pay lower freight rates. 

One panellist complained that a carrier announced a cancellation of delivering containers at the last minute contributing to dislocations.
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