West Coast ports to shut down for weekend, Valley Ag industry taking big hit

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Cargo operations at West Coast ports will shut down Saturday, Sunday and Monday, as labor talks between port owners and the dockworkers union have broken down.

With shipping containers stacked up and ships lined up at the Port of Oakland and other West Coast ports, Valley nut producers are missing out on a profitable period.

"One of every four nuts we produce in the United States go to China, and the biggest consumption period is Lunar New Year and we're missing it," Meridian Growers managing partner Jim Zion said.

The Agriculture Transportation Coalition says the Ag industry is taking a $1.75 billion hit each month. Zion says some containers have been sitting in port for up to eight weeks.

"It's amazingly frustrating because I know that's money out there," he said.

Many Valley packing houses are full of pistachios and almonds, which can't be shipped out because of the backlog, so foreign competitors are now filling the void.

"Iran this year had a very good pistachio crop, and I can guarantee you they're going to traditional U.S. buyers and saying 'listen, we don't have an issue with the ports,'" said Zion.

Valley trucking companies have also been impacted. Jim Ganduglia has been waiting for an overseas shipment of steel plates and coils.

"I've got one ship coming in that's got 111 plates on it; that's 20 truckloads," said Ganduglia.

His trucks will deliver the steel to a Tulare company.

"They told me it's going to starting working on the 17th or 18th. You know, it's like playing Russian roulette," said Ganduglia.

Thankfully he's not waiting on perishable items inside those containers.

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