The Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC), representing agriculture and forest product shippers, has asked Congress to consider the U.S. Coast Guard’s guidance on the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) verified gross mass (VGM) rule for submitting container weights, including the method by which the shipper provides cargo weight and the carrier provides container weight.
On July 1, 2016 an amendment to the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) SOLAS convention will go into effect requiring shippers to certify and submit the VGM – the combined weight of the cargo and the container – to the steamship line and terminal operator in advance of loading the container aboard a vessel.
AgTC says this will impose unnecessary costs, additional EDI communications and delay in shipments. It will also create port congestion, missed sailings, spoiled cargo and angry foreign customers.
AgTC submitted its request to Congress in advance of the April 14 hearing of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee on SOLAS container weight amendment implementation.
Editors Insight: The food industry needs to pay attention to the process by which container weight rules are determined to ensure an effective and efficient system for submitting container weights. AgTC insists the IMO proposed method will create congestion and increase costs of shipping containers by $50 to $125 per container.
AgTC wants Congress to revisit the IMO SOLAS amendment and consider revisions, if not revocation.
The food industry should engage federal lawmakers to come up with a better solution than what the IMO has adopted. Otherwise, there will be serious compliance issues for food shippers that will impact the global food supply chain, 4-8-16 By Elliot Maras