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Can Florida’s Ports Really Help Fix Broken Supply Chain?

What so many Americans want, they can’t have yet. It’s probably sitting in a container aboard a cargo ship off of America’s coastline, waiting to be unloaded.

So many of the goods that Americans crave are made in China, which shut down its factories to help limit the spread of COVID. Now that they’re back up and running, Americans, with stimulus in hand and Christmas two months away, are gobbling them up.

And ports, mostly on the West Coast where Asian shipments generally offload, can’t keep up with the unprecedented demand. The supply is there, just not here on land.

“There couldn’t be a better perfect storm when you talk about the impacts on the supply chain,” said Jonathan Daniels, Florida Ports Council Chairman, who’s also in charge of Port Everglades.

He said there are no abnormal backlogs at any of the state’s 15 ports. Eight of them handle containers. They’re back to pre-pandemic shipping loads.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis invited the fully-loaded ships waiting in line off the coast of California, to head south through the Panama Canal, and to Florida to offload.

“We in Florida have the ability to help alleviate these long jams,” DeSantis said last week.

Daniels said, “You really take a look at all the ports in the state of Florida, we are able to accommodate some level of solution.”

Reporter Andrew Lofholm asked Daniels, “So Florida can be a huge part of this fix?” “We can. We stand ready right now,” said Daniels.

Jacksonville’s port will be taking some pressure off the backlogged port just north in Savannah, Georgia. But so far, none from the West Coast have changed course to Florida.

Here at Port Everglades, most of its cargo comes from Central and South America. On Tuesday, they had in port what would be tied for their largest ship ever. It happens to be from India. If you were to line up every container it could carry, it would be 36 miles long, and every container needs a truck, which leads to the next problem: a national trucking shortage.

“We’ve had a truck driver shortage for several years now and we’ve been screaming that from the rooftops, but right now it’s been exacerbated by the pandemic and a lot of them leave the profession earlier if they’re close to retirement age,” said Alix Miller, who leads the Florida Trucking Association, in an interview Tuesday over Zoom.

She says a typical package you’d have delivered travels on average of four trucks before it shows up at your house. Right now, the United States is short 80,000 truckers.

She says the fix is twofold: changing the stereotypical truck driver perception, it can pay over $100,000 annually, and allowing truckers under 21 to cross state lines to attract younger drivers.

“Be patient, plan ahead and be understanding. The supply chain is really complex. And while trucking is a critical component of the supply chain, it’s not the only one,” Miller said.

“Things could be back to normal by springtime,” said Daniels.

 

Source: CW34 News