10.18.19

SCHUMER, WITH DIRECT INTERVENTION TO USDA, CUTS THROUGH RED TAPE, SECURES WAIVER FOR PORT OF OSWEGO TO EXPORT 20K METRIC TONS OF NY SOYBEANS ACROSS GLOBE; SENATOR DEMANDS USDA GRANT YEAR-LONG EXTENSION, OPEN INTERNATIONAL MARKETS FOR NY FARMERS & ALLOW THOUSANDS OF TONS OF UPSTATE SOYBEANS TO BE SHIPPED OUT AS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS ROLL INTO NY ECONOMY

As 20K Metric Ton Shipment Lay Stalled Due To A Pending USDA Waiver, Schumer Launched A Full-Court Press To Get Waiver Signed, Including A Letter To USDA & Direct Call To Secretary Of Agriculture; Today Announces Success In Preventing Local Farmers From Suffering Costly Loss Of Business 

However, USDA Only Granted A Temporary Waiver, Forcing the Port & NY Farmers To Jump Through Bureaucratic Hurdles During Each Export Opportunity; NY Soybean Exports From Port Expected to Exceed 55K Metric Tons This Year

Schumer: Year-Long Waiver Ensures NY Farm Products Continue To Flow Out Of Port Of Oswego & Into World’s Markets

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced, following his behind-the-scenes advocacy, including a call with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), that he has secured a waiver to allow local soybean farmers and the Port of Oswego (Port) to export tens-of-thousands of tons worth of exports to extremely promising international markets. On deadline to secure the waiver, with the possibility that the whole shipment of New York soybeans would be lost, Schumer urgently called USDA Secretary Perdue to personally make the case for the issuance of a timely waiver.

 However the USDA only issued a temporary waiver for this shipment alone, instead of the year-long waiver received the past two years. Schumer said this short-term waiver is problematic for two reasons. First, the Port’s project to install a permanent export facility that will make the waiver no longer necessary is not expected to be completed until 2020 under even the most accelerated timelines, meaning this waiver will be needed for the near future. Second, forcing the Port to seek the waiver on a case-by-case basis will add a bureaucratic hurdle to these export opportunities that require flexibility, quick decision making and complex logistical planning. Schumer said that these circumstances, along with the safe implementation of the twelve month waiver for the past two years, require one last year-long waiver to be issued without delay.  

“The clock was ticking and our New York farmers needed this 11th-hour waiver from USDA or else the whole massive soybean shipment – that they desperately need to get to market – would have been lost. That is why I urgently called Secretary Perdue and I am pleased he listened and was responsive and agreed to grant the waiver,” said Senator Schumer. “However in order to avoid another situation like this in the coming year, a year-long extension of this critical waiver must be granted ASAP, just like it has been the past two years. With the Port finalizing infrastructure plans that will finally render the waiver unnecessary, it makes no sense for force New York farmers to cut through bureaucratic red tape each time they seek to access much-needed export markets.” 

Schumer explained that while the Port had a massive opportunity to ship 20 thousand metric tons of locally-grown soybeans to international markets, such as Egypt, it was temporarily being prevented from moving forward as USDA had not yet signed off on a waiver needed to weigh and inspect grain manually. The Port of Oswego has been granted a waiver from the requirement of using a diverter-type mechanical sampler for each of the past two years with the system working safely and efficiently. Furthermore, the Port of Oswego is finalizing plans to invest in the required sampling equipment and install a permanent export facility, which will render the waiver unnecessary. Schumer said that the temporary waiver is a critical victory for local soybean farmers as it will prevent a costly loss of desperately-needed business, but that a year-long extension is necessary to avoid bureaucratic hurdles during future export opportunities. 

Schumer said that after years of advocacy and planning, the Port is working with New York State to install a permanent export facility with a diverter-type mechanical sampler that will make the waiver no longer necessary. However due to the size and scope of such a project, it cannot be completed until 2020 under even the most accelerated timelines. With planning for this required facility already underway as proof of the Port’s commitment to meeting USDA requirements, another year-long waiver will give the Port flexibility to capitalize on future export opportunities. 

Schumer explained that the Port of Oswego, the first port on the Great Lakes system and only deep-water port on Lake Ontario, is already a major economic driver for Oswego County and Central New York. Specifically, the Port of Oswego supports 209 good-paying jobs, $26.7 million in economic activity, $13.8 million in personal income and local consumption expenditures and $5.8 million in federal and state tax revenue. In recent years, the Port Of Oswego has used this waiver to open up crucial markets for New York farmers who want to export their products, particularly soybeans. This past year, the port exported a record more than 51,000 metric tons of soybeans to foreign markets, a 325% increase from 2017. These soybean exports accounted for about seventeen percent of New York’s total soybean production. Schumer added that officials expect to exceed 55 thousand metric tons of grain this year, but will be unable to do so without this critical waiver. 

Schumer has long been a staunch supporter of the Port of Oswego. Last year, Schumer helped the Port of Oswego secure a grain export license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). As a result, the Port of Oswego was able to significantly increase the amount of grain shipped through the Port, as well as establish a new USDA lab at the facility and purchase a modern weighing system for grain exports.

A copy of Schumer’s letters to USDA appears below

Dear Secretary Purdue,

I write today to urge the United States Department of Agriculture’s Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to approve the Port of Oswego’s request for a year-long extension of waivers from the regulations stipulated in 7 CFR800.83(a)(1) to export grain. While I thank you for granting a short-term waiver that will allow the Port to export 20,000 metric tons of New York soybeans later this month, a year-long extension is necessary for the Port to maximize its potential to help New York farmers reach international markets.

As you know, the Port of Oswego in partnership with local businesses and the USDA, has received two separate year-long waivers to suspend the requirement for using a diverter-type mechanical sampler while weighing and grading products for export. This process has worked safely and efficiently the past two years and allowed over 51,000 metric tons of New York soybeans to reach international markets. As the Port works expeditiously with New York State to finalize plans to install the required sampling equipment, I ask that you grant another year-long waiver instead of forcing the Port to seek the waiver on a shipment-by-shipment basis. Forcing the Port to seek the waiver on a case-by-case basis for the next year will add a bureaucratic hurdle to these export opportunities that require flexibility, quick decision making and complex logistical planning.

After years of advocacy and planning, the Port is working with New York State to install a permanent export facility that will make the waiver no longer necessary. However due to the size and scope of such a project, it cannot be completed until 2020 under even the most accelerated timelines. With the planning for this required facility already underway as proof of the Port’s commitment to meeting USDA requirements, I ask that you grant another year-long waiver. 

I share your desire for the Port to expeditiously install the required sampling equipment and pledge that I will work with all stakeholders to ensure the project is completed as soon as possible. In the meantime, I ask that you grant this this year-long waiver so that New York farmers, with the help of the Port of Oswego, can continue to access these meaningful business opportunities. 

I thank you for your attention to this pressing matter. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.

Sincerely, 

Dear Secretary Perdue, 

I write today to urge the United States Department of Agriculture’s Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to approve the Port of Oswego’s request for waivers of the regulations stipulated in 7 CFR800.83(a)(1) to export grain through the Port Of Oswego. Without immediate approval of this waiver, New York’s farmers will lose an imminent opportunity to export their products to foreign markets. 

The Port Of Oswego, in partnership with local businesses and the USDA, has received this waiver for the past two years, and that the system has worked safely and efficiently. With the most recent waiver expired, the Port is currently seeking a renewal that will allow it to continue provide export markets for New York farmers that didn’t previously exist. In fact, the current waiver allowed the Port of Oswego to export seventeen percent of New York’s total soybean production. Additionally, the Port of Oswego has been awarded funding to build a permanent export facility that will include upgrades to weighing and grading mechanisms. The project is expected to commence within calendar year 2020 and once complete, a waiver will no longer be necessary. 

The urgency of this request comes as the Port of Oswego and its partners have the opportunity to export over 16 thousand metric tons of soybeans to foreign markets. However without immediate approval of this waiver, this business opportunity will be lost. I ask that you immediately work to expedite and grant approval of this waiver that has opened up critical export markets for New York farmers. 

I thank you for your attention to this pressing matter. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff. 

Sincerely,

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